*Republished from the February 2017 issue of The Kayseean
By Emily Powers
February is a significant month for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it’s known as the month of love since Valentine’s Day falls on the 14th. The second thing February is known for is Black History Month as we celebrate the achievements of and recognize the role of African-Americans in U.S. history.
For me, it is not ironic how the month of love and Black History Month both fall into February. It is a great time to show love for a significant other and for others. In a society that is still struggling to create peace and equality between races, I think February should remind us that as followers of Christ we should love our neighbors.
This year, I hope that the rest of our country will awaken and realize that race is not a barrier to love. This is something that as a Christian and a responsible human being I feel strongly about.
For that reason, a year ago, I produced photographic work that combined the faces of two women into one. The twist was that one woman was African-American and the other was Caucasian. I based this photo on 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, which states:
12) ”There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body . It is the same with Christ. 13) We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14) So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.”
The results and reactions to my work were eye opening. As you look at the photo, it becomes hard to figure out which woman belongs to which race. A lot of peers who know both women personally asked me whose lips were used and whose eyes and nose were in the photo. This became very interesting to me.
Walking down the street, anyone could tell the difference between the two women, but when their faces were combined in the photograph, it was hard to tell who was who. The value of this experience showed that there was no significant difference in the appearance of an African-American woman and a Caucasian woman.
We see what we want to see and judge people for the way people perceive them to be. In other words, we judge a book by its cover. We may not know the individual at all, but we perceive them to be a certain way by the way they look or because of their race or cultural differences.
As Valentine’s Day approaches and Black History Month is celebrated, I challenge you to open your heart to all people. Take a few moments to tell them what they mean to you and, lastly, take perception out.