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  • Writer's pictureLola Sofi'

I See Color by Lola Sofi'

…the problem with being colorblind

In a beautiful suburban neighborhood lives a gardening enthusiast, Mrs. Radasher aka Mrs. R., who can be seen every morning at 8 a.m. tending to the most beautiful rose garden I’ve ever seen. Meticulously and methodically, she grooms, prunes, nurtures, talks to, waters, and fertilizes her beauties to the envy of the neighborhood. Bursting with color, the rainbow of blooms adorns her yard, drawing the attention of onlookers far and wide; and she takes great pride in educating her supporters all about the many colorful specimens in her landscape. Her smile blooms almost as bright as her roses as she guides the admirers through her masterfully manicured garden. The tour usually lasts about 5 minutes, and at its end, the listeners leave full of botanical knowledge and full of advice on how “you too can grow a rainbow.” Tour participants are even gifted a pack of seeds with an assignment of growing their own rainbow of roses. Naturally, the spectators praise her hospitality as a beautiful show of humanity. And I agree. Engaging strangers with pleasant conversation seem like a lost art nowadays. But every day, Mrs. R demonstrates that amiability still exists when she shows this type of favor to all who will receive it. Well…almost all. Well…all who look like Mrs. R.

For those who do not share Mrs. R’s extremely fair complexion, unfortunately, are not afforded the extension of her hand in horticulture. They cannot observe her delightful smile as she boasts of the fruits of her labor; they’re only given a look of disdain. They cannot partake of the gardening grand tour, learn the botanical lessons, or be offered “the seeds of tomorrow” as she would often say, to sow their own colorific floral ensemble. For those who do not share Mrs. R’s extremely fair complexion, unfortunately, are only given the silent treatment and purposefully voided of all her attention.

I too, would not be afforded the wisdom of creating rainbow rose bushes, at least not from Mrs. R; nor would anyone else who looked like me, with skin tones falling somewhere within the beautiful palette of brown. None would she allow to come face to face with her self-proclaimed “keeper of the beautiful garden.” Faces beaming of heavily creamed coffee or pecan tan or golden amber or spicy cinnamon; bodies glowing with gorgeous chestnut or magnificent mocha or refined copper or delicate sepia; humanity illuminating the splendor of onyx or exquisite cedar or rich dark chocolate or the complete essence of glorious melanin; none, would she share her colorful secrets. None, would she offer her time.

People, adorned with nature’s hues, more beautiful than her very own garden, she could not see. Well…she pretended not to see. Well…she refused to see.

And speaking from someone who has been blessed to reside in a body—an extraordinary luminosity of pecan tan, one that’s been “fearfully and wonderfully made,”—given to me by the Almighty Father, Creator of All, the Originator of Mankind, and the ultimate Author and Producer of Color, I cannot for the love of me understand why someone, who has an appreciation of floral colors and desire for cultivating its seed, does not share in that same appreciation and desire to cultivate for our Father’s creation of humanity, all of whom are adorned in a wide array of beautiful and colorful skin tones.

As I have always been an inquisitive sort, I approach the property to broach a conversation with her about her rainbow coalition of splendor in the grass. Watering her beautiful garden, she speaks to her florals like companions, sharing stories with them, eliciting their responses and answering for them; but all while ignoring me. However, I am not dissuaded easily, and I continue my inquiry.

“Mrs. Radasher,” I call. “It’s Mrs. Waters, your neighbor from down the street…” No response.

“I see you’ve had a busy morning with all of the spectators visiting the neighborhood, I presume just to see your magnificent garden?” Still silence.

“I fancy myself a bit of a gardener too, but my specialty is food,” I say. Her face turns red, and she shifts her body, seemingly annoyed with my presence. I persist.

“I grow collards and onions and beets and chamomile. And—"

I am abruptly interrupted.

“Mrs. Waters, what can I do for you,” as she quickly turned off her water hose. Her words are curt, with a tone meant to be cutting, nothing like the chit chat she shared with her roses.

“Absolutely nothing, Mrs. Radasher. I just stopped by as a fellow gardener to appreciate your green thumb.” I smile. She doesn’t, but looks surprised, her eyes widening, and nose tilted slightly in the air. I suppose she thought I wanted the garden tour or a handout of seeds. She almost seems disappointed she can’t deny me the pleasure of either.

I turn to walk away but pause for a moment to ask, “Mrs. Radasher? Do you see color?”

She looks perplexed and insulted simultaneously. “Of course, I see color,” she huffs. “What a ridiculous question. Just look at my beautiful garden!” she protests.

I challenge back. “Then why do you not see me?”

“We’ll…,” she pauses, searching her brain for a the right retort. “I don’t see color in people if that’s what you mean.”

“But why not?” I continue to prod.

“Mrs. Waters…” she says, back straight in defense posture. “I am a God-fearing woman. If you are implying that I am a racist, I—"

“Mrs. Radasher, I am implying no such thing. I too, love the Lord and He loves me. I’m just trying to understand how you can see the beauty of color in your floral friends and not see the beauty of color in humanity. It’s all relative, you know.”

Lost in thoughts and for words, she gathers her belongings hurriedly and heads for her back door, muttering, “See color in people… that’s outrageous.”

And as she takes her leave, I wonder if Mrs. R will notice how the sun has slowly colorized her exposed arms and legs to the beautiful hue of pecan tan…almost to look just like me.


The Author’s Thoughts:

“People everywhere…we all lie somewhere on the line of color continuum, proving us to be merely different than, not better than.” —Lola Sofi’


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