Here I am in my first pair of glasses that were made with more than one kind of nose bridge in mind. I didn’t expect to feel emotional about it. For the longest time, I thought glasses always slid down my nose because I was clumsy, or because my face sweat more than others. I mean, I have a blanket of “thick, ethnic hair,” after all. Basically, I thought the frames never fit well because something was wrong with me.
Last week, my photographer friend, Joanna, was telling me about the way photography was developed to accommodate one skin color. I read about it this morning. Read this NPR article or google “the Shirley card” if you don’t believe me.
Having glasses that fit, bandaids that match skin tone, and photos that don’t make your skin color look weird might seem like small inconveniences. On their own, that’s what they are. Many of us just live with it. But built into a lifetime, and built into the fabric of a society’s foundation, these “inconveniences” are part of a much weightier message of “less than.” A system. And letting a “less than” message live on and thrive as a system, is the way that things like internment, slavery, and genocide occur under the world’s watch, and the way that mass incarceration, children in cages at the border, and language that labels people made in the image of God as an “infestation,” happens on our watch.
This isn’t about feeling pity for the right fit of glasses. I don’t want any of that. This is about noticing. It’s about seeing the system that still exists and resisting it. It’s about fighting for people instead of the color and design of a Starbucks cup at Christmas time. It’s about believing God when he said that he made EVERY man and woman in his image, and refusing to ignore and go along with the systems that are essentially saying he lied about that.
Having frames that fit my face may seem like a small thing. But the truth is, it speaks to my worth, and that’s no small thing for any of us.