Persons of No Color

The Smithsonian Museum, the American Louvre of unusual artifacts, has a collection of toys.  One is a transparent plastic figure called "The Visible Woman."  She has as her companion "The Visible Man."  The see-through educational toys were designed to teach children about human anatomy.  

Larger transparent models of human beings were designed to teach medical students.  One such figure is of a woman.  Made in 1980 in Dresden, in what was then East Germany, the medical Eve could well be accompanied by the transparent model of an Adam created in Germany in 1933. 

Both models were designed by scientists living in regimes dominated by reductionist ideas about what it meant to be a human being — the one obsessed with the idea of the perfect Aryan, the other gripped by the idea of the perfect communist. 

Behind the colorless plastic skins are the innards necessary to any functioning human life.  Male and female, each has similar essential inner parts, including a heart.  Their lack of skin color denotes that human anatomy does not depend on skin tone, ethnicity, or class.  She represents the universal woman.  He represents the universal man.  Her anatomy is every woman's anatomy.  His anatomy is every man's anatomy.

There is no reason to categorize either according to skin tone.  She is not a woman "of color," as racial categorists would insist.  But she also is not a woman without color.  

Recently, racial categorization has eliminated the universally understood meaning of "woman."  It has become popular to speak of "women of color," which means women who don't have white skin.  By using that term, instantly, countless millions of women and girls are paled into insignificance.  They are regarded as having no color at all. 

As those with brown and black skin were once rendered almost invisible by racist ideologues, women of "no color" are now considered outside the spectrum of colorful humanity.  This is seen by some Critical Race Theorists as only just turn around, as fair play.  What was done to those with brown or black skins must now be done to those deemed without color in order to balance the scales of justice.  It is now just to tell little girls (and little boys, too) that they are inherently bad because their skin is seen as colorless.

It is considered just that a woman having no color, like the author of this essay, has no history.  As I write, the history of my English and Scottish ancestors is being enveloped in a colorless fog by ideology actively seeking to erase England's and Scotland's colorful narratives.  The language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible is considered too filled with racist and judgmental moral terms and values.  The Christian religion that once informed the island of my predecessors and many of the founders of my nation is seen as intrinsically hateful.  This, though it was a Christian Englishman who led the fight against slavery and an English repentant sinner who once sold slaves who wrote "Amazing Grace," a hymn sung by every Christian, regardless of skin color. 

Focusing on the outside renders the inside of any human being colorless, as invisible.  It is impossible to see the other person if one is determined to render him invisible, as a person with no color or the "wrong" color.  Seen from the cold distance of space, the Earth itself is a pale blue dot with no indication of the riot of colorful humanity inhabiting it. 

Even pain will not render another visible to us if we have erased him from consideration because he is not colored like us.  Color the heartbroken woman in Afghanistan who sold her daughter in order to feed her family invisible.  Color the millions of unborn baby girls who never saw the light of day as transparent as water.  Color the tears of women and girls who are trafficked by heartless pimps as noticeable as rain on the ocean surface. 

What happens to colorless people, to invisible humanity?  Since there are no longer any ineradicable or even discernible outlines denoting their intrinsic humanity, the invisible person can be discounted or annihilated at will by the more powerful.  A boundaryless person can be walked over at will.

There is a color that is undeniably universal to all human beings: red, which is indicative of sin and guilt, of sacrifice and courage.  Blood makes everyone visible when it is shed. 

To reduce any of the human race to bloodless invisibility; to target any as having a color that is no longer to be painted into the human canvas; to target any as having no blood at all is to permit horrors with which we of the twentieth and twenty-first century are only too familiar.  Millions deemed as having the wrong color, ethnicity, religion; millions deemed without color have perished or have been enslaved, and along with them their colorful histories.  Countless who have been permitted to "live" have been made invisible within their own societies.  They are considered as lesser mortals who are dispensable.

But as C.S. Lewis notes in The Weight of Glory:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

To be truly seen requires transparency.  In Jewish and Christian tradition, every human being is as transparent to God as the plastic models of the Visible Man and Woman are to us.  By acknowledging our transparency to God, for whom nothing is hidden, we can in turn become transparent to one another, acknowledging that our humanness lies in the core of our being and not on external characteristics. 

Such was the view Israel's King David took when he wrote so compellingly about the gaze of God in Psalm 139: 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

In the eyes of the Creator, we are all transparent.

We are fully seen and known by God the Creator, who has made not only the body, but the soul.  While such knowledge is too wonderful for any of us to fully comprehend, it is on the bases of that understanding that we see every human soul to be full of color and of infinite value. 

Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the prize for excellence in systematic theology.  Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines. She has been a regular contributor to American Thinker for a decade.  She may be reached at 

Image via Pickpik.

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