A Parable on Whiteness (from a Four-Year-Old)

My son, Zeke, likes to make up songs. He’s four years old.

A few days ago, we were killing time in the evening in a hotel room in Oakland. (We were in town for the Othering and Belonging Conference, which was super inspiring. More on that later.) Zeke started drumming on a plastic cup while we sat on the floor.

“This song is about a town where everything is white,” he told me after a few minutes. “White, white, white. Everything used to be rainbow colored, but something happened to turn it all white. Now they can’t tell what house is theirs. Everything looks the same.”

Then he sang for a while as he drummed.

“White! White! White!”

He sang about confusion — people kept getting lost! They couldn't tell any of the buildings or houses apart and couldn't find their way home. Everything was white. What a strange town!

After several minutes of this, Zeke paused and looked at me.

“Even the people are all turned white!” he said. “Everything is still rainbow on the inside, but it’s white on the outside.”

He sang then about how you couldn’t tell anyone apart, and about their rainbow colors being hidden. Covered in white. Where is my family? Where is my home? Who am I?

We don’t know. This is the town where everything is turned white.