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The Color of Water

By bayberrylee Nov 09, 2008 591 Words
In The Color of Water by James McBride, we are taught through the eyes of a black man and his white mother that color shouldn’t matter. Although Ruth McBride Jordan had grown up as a Jew and had a father who disliked Jews very much, she was never prejudice against them and learned that she fit into the black world better than the white world. When she married a black man, she accepted Christ into her life and told her children, “God is the color of water.” She taught her kids that color didn’t matter, because God loves all races.

Throughout her life, Ruth was torn between what relationships she should have with black people. Because her father hated black people so much, overcharging them when selling goods, it was initially hard for her to communicate with these people. Her first “real” boyfriend, Peter, had been black and Ruth could not reveal to her family about this relationship. So when she married a black man, her family disowned her, reciting kaddish and sitting shiva. They mourned her and did everything they would do if a Jew had really died. That didn’t matter to her though because her husband changed her life. She is the person she is today because of him. She married another black man named Hunter Jordan after her first husband died of cancer, and he made a great impact upon her life as well. So eventually she started to associate with black people more, and less with white people. Ruth found and learned throughout her life that blacks are more peaceful and trusting. James McBride, the author of this memoir, had always questioned his mother about the difference between his race and his mother’s when he was little. He was always wondering why his mother’s skin color was different than the other mothers. When he asked his mother, “Am I black or white?” she responded, “You’re a human being. Educate yourself or you’ll be nobody.” Then one day he asked his mother, “What color is God’s spirit?” And she answered, “It doesn’t have a color. God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.” I love this quote, because it is so spiritual and its meaning is so true. Ruth was saying that God is not black or white and thus he loves all races equally. Race doesn’t make people worthy of God's grace. Although James did not understand at that time, he does now. He understands why his mother put him and his siblings in white schools, not only because they are the best, but because white people shouldn’t be the only ones able to have a great education. Through his mother, he learned that color does not matter especially because everyone is equally God’s children. We are all God’s children. Even though we are all different in our own way and have different colored skin, that doesn’t matter. James McBride learned that through the powerful words of his mother, Ruth McBride Jordan. Ruth learned that during the course of her life and did not follow her father’s example in being prejudice against black people. Like she said, God is the color of water. He is neither black nor white, but at the same time, he is both. The Color of Water is a black man’s tribute to his white mother, because of the amazing lessons she taught him through first-hand experiences from her life.

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