Let’s Honor All Our Colors

The book titled “Elmer the Patchwork Elephant” was a book that I read to my children when they still were interested in having stories read to them. It was about an elephant, Elmer, that lived in a herd with other elephants. The other elephants were all grey and uniform. But Elmer was colorful and much more alive than the others. Elmer, like many of us that are different, thought this was a bad thing and wanted to be just like everybody else. So he dyed his body grey with grapes and returned to the herd. It was weird for Elmer. All the elephants were quiet and sedate. But he was fitting in until it started raining and his dye washed away, revealing the colorful Elmer. The whole tribe erupted in laughter and thought Elmer was so funny. From that day forward, Elmer never tried to hide his true colors except on one day each year when he would dye his body grey and the other elephants would paint themselves in all kinds of beautiful colors. This is a lovely story about how each of us has value even if we are different or, by some standards, “weird.”

Prior to focusing on writing, I worked exclusively as a corporate lawyer. I was very good at it but always felt a little out of place. The other lawyers would wear white shirts and I would don pink, purple, or blue shirts. A partner once said that I was a “square peg trying to fit into a round hole.” At the time I took that as an insult because I wanted to fit in. Twenty years later I no longer want to conform.. I want to be my own person and add value because of my uniqueness.

Many of us may think that we are the only “weirdos.” But they would be wrong. We all are weird. We all are connected.

With the protests over the murder of George Floyd and the outrage over police brutality, I am proud of “Black Lives Matter” for bringing the plight of black people to the attention of the world and not just being polite. The Pulitzer Prize winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich coined the expression “Well-behaved women seldom make history” in a 1976 article. This is true of all people who bring about change.

The leaders of the Black Lives Matter may not be polite to many people, but there is no time for manners. Black people have been abused for too long in this country. We need to embrace our black brothers and sisters and value them for their contributions to America. We all are different. So true, so true, so what? Let’s stop focusing on the differences and instead embrace our commonalities. Nobody wants to be abused. Let’s start there and take a step toward eliminating systemic racism in our police forces and in our society as a whole.