Skin in the Game

[Disclaimer:  this piece is not written to one person(s).  It is based on real experiences in my story and may differ from yours.  But I would challenge you to consider how the world around you has been impacted by your skin colour?  Also, I am not using “white” / “non-white” denoting a belief system but as skin colour. I also choose to use “non-white” instead of “people of colour” because it is more inclusive for those who are non-African American/Hispanic and also because white is a colour.   If you have chosen to stop reading at this point, I invite you into a dialogue where I can clarify some things for you because I can only write so much in a blog.  If you continue to read, I thank you and also invite you into a dialogue to clarify anything and to hear your story.]  

The word race means skin colour and is a social construct.  Culture refers to the nuances we embody in our story, behind our skin colour.  Kind of like the athlete in a uniform, only difference is, he takes off the uniform when he isn’t playing.  We can’t do that with our skin colour.  The phrase, “skin in the game” is an idiom (a phrase or an expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal meaning).  Wikipedia defines “Skin in the game” as the following: “To have incurred risk (monetary or otherwise) by being involved in achieving a goal.  ‘Skin’ is a synecdoche for the self and ‘the game’ is the metaphor for actions on the field of play under discussion.”   So in essence, race is the object and culture shows up in our actions.

Not that race relations is a game, but to simplify this, if you have a pulse, the colour of your skin, whether white or non-white, puts you in this game (of life) and how you act will determine the result.  The question is, “are you a team player?”

As human beings, our skin colour is always in the game.  At least that’s what we see.  The issue of racism is real.  I live in a town that is growing racially but could definitely do better to learn how the cultural diversity impacts us even more.  Where people learn to include other ethnic groups into the fabric of their communities by growing in self-awareness so as to improve their efforts in healing racism.  Growing racially is a wonderful thing for many reasons and my favourite one being it is a glimpse of what heaven might be like.  But will it matter then? One can only imagine.

Right now, it does matter.

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3 friends, 3 shades, 5 countries, and united in purpose

However, putting your skin in the game might mean your actions will be in question.  What are your actions on the field saying about you?

Here are some thoughts to ponder as you think about putting your “skin in the game” as it relates to interacting with someone with a different skin colour:

  • Is it unity you seek? Then discover what personal common ground you have behind the skin colour.
  • Is it conformity you seek? Then embrace the discomfort that you feel when you are around others who don’t talk, speak, or live like you.
  • Is it power you seek? Then you won’t get anywhere with the other person because you are clearly being oppressive.  Power has no lasting value in the race conversation.  It is always divisive. (FYI, I have experienced this with non-white folks as well.)
  • Is it understanding you seek? Make time to dialogue and be intentional about relationships while leaving your assumptions and stereotypes at home.

As a non-white woman in a white dominated society, my skin is ALWAYS in the game.  The places I frequent have a unique way of pointing out how different I look from the “common race”.  I could choose to walk around with a bag over my head and clothe myself so all my skin is covered, but I would probably pick a brown bag. And well, that would still make me brown.

No, but seriously, you see me as a brown woman and you make up your mind about me.  Or some who know our story, see me as married to a white man and my privilege comes from riding his coat tails.  At least that’s what some have told me. (true story, I have been told that a time or two…and yes, I have forgiven them.)  Or perhaps you are waiting for your opinion to fall out of my mouth and until that happens you don’t think we are on the same “side”.

Since this is my blog, I would like to share with you what road I take when my skin is in the game. I would love to hear your story too…write me!!

I pray for hearts to receive and be teachable, and for people to embrace not only their skin colour but for the ones that belong to hearts around them.  I pray that they would learn to understand the story behind someone else’s skin colour.   (not to be confused with “colour doesn’t matter”.  IT DOES!!)

I stand for truth when I hear it.  Truth is full of acceptance, not tolerance.  Acceptance doesn’t mean your opinion has to come out of my mouth, or my opinion comes out of your mouth, but that we are not put off by the “mess” that is uncovered when our differences are exposed.  Don’t say what you want me to hear…tell the truth. Own the fact that we “don’t know what we don’t know, and we can learn from each other”, and in all honesty, we might get “it” wrong from time to time.

We each will have different skin in the game and that, in and of itself, challenges us to live side by side with one another in this game of life.  It will help both of us grow forward.  Assuming we want to do that.  One of my favourite phrases is, “team work makes the dream work!”. I wonder if that’s what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had in mind when he penned the words of his famous “I had a dream” speech?

I teach workshops to help people understand cultures different from their own while helping them grow in self-awareness, equipping people to take the road less travelled so that our communities can grow and heal.  Together, we can discover what unites us rather than what divides us.  For more information, please visit my website at www.seemaministries.com  or email me directly at kinita@seemaministries.com for any questions or clarifications.

We have raised our biracial children with the belief that their character matters more than the message the world wants to give them about “what they look like”.

I will NOT let the world define who I am, and I don’t think you should either.  That’s God’s job.  Besides, He gave me this skin and I choose to embrace it and stay in the game till He calls me to the bench!!

REFLECTION:

How are you using your skin in the game?

Are you a team player?

Are you feeling benched – as if your story doesn’t matter or that you aren’t useful?  How are you responding?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey,

Kinita

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