Lana Hechtman Ayers The Color of Racism for Z.S. Winters, my nephew drives a snowplow in a small Colorado town as white as the snow he drives into high compressed banks. His skin is the color of hickory bark with the cinnamon glow of youth his brief twenty-three years affords. He’s shy but quick to laugh, and when he does he tilts his chin down, looks up at you with his umber pupils from a doe-eyed angle. When I think of him so far away, commencing his adult life in this America, my heart contracts with ache. Other seasons, he drives the county pick-up, weeds and snips courthouse shrubbery into symmetrical shapes. Justice is not so manicured. My nephew’s skin is the color of dew in midnight moonlight, a jewel on this earth living so far from those who love him. My nephew is a member of the brotherhood of all men, as we all are, with our varying degrees of melanin, but the same number of cytes to make precious brown pigment. & Some of us excel in pigment, my nephew’s skin rich, beautiful, mine less so. Maybe you stood in line behind my nephew at Walmart, you just buying a gallon of milk, his skin the color of polite, said, go on ahead of me. My nephew loves video games and pizza and burritos. Perhaps you know a young man like him, or are the mother of someone much like him, or grandfather of, or teacher. Maybe my nephew has plowed your roadway, or someone like him has, so the streets are safe for you to pass. Maybe he mowed the grass in your neighborhood park so you could lie out on sunny spring & summer days with your picnic and book, or play frisbee with friends, or toss a ball to your dog. My nephew loves dogs. If he’s been working hard, his skin glints as if lacquered with gold and if you’re lucky enough to behold it, my nephew’s contagious smile will lighten your burdens for a while, despite his dark skin. So when you ask me why I’m outraged ask yourself why to white policemen & to white supremacists & to whites who say they don’t see color, my nephew’s skin is the color of fear, the color of hatred, the color of oppression, the color of lynching in broad, bright daylight.