MISS MOOX + time


I was standing in Mozambique, Africa, on the grounds of one of the centres owned by the mission organization I'd come to visit. A beautiful little girl was enjoying the attention of myself and another short-term visitor. She was probably about ten years old, one of the orphans the centre housed, with a beautiful wide smile, high cheekbones, neatly braided hair, and smooth black skin. Her manner was shy, gentle, and affectionate, and overall she was one of the most winning children I have ever seen.

As she chattered with us in Portuguese, I half-paid attention. Repeatedly she pointed to the pale white forearm of the other visitor, then mine, and said, "Bonita." Then pointing to her own dark arm she said, "Fea," looking shyly up at us for our reaction. I nodded and smiled for a moment until my high-school Spanish kicked in and I recoiled in horror. "No, no!" I cried in my broken Portuguese. "That's not true! Bonita," pointing to our skin, "and bonita," pointing to hers.

She smiled and ducked her head. "Shara!" I cried to one of the long-term missionaries happening to pass by at that moment. "She's saying that our white skin is beautiful, and hers is ugly!"

Shara reacted swiftly. Bending down to look into the girl's face, she remonstrated with her gently but firmly. "No," she said in Portuguese. "That's not true. It is a lie of Satan. You are beautiful. Their skin is beautiful, and yours is beautiful. It's not true that you are ugly. That is a lie of Satan."

The girl hung her head and dragged her toes in the dirt as she listened. We returned to our play and chatter after Shara had walked on, but I couldn't help wondering if the girl had understood and believed the correction.

I also couldn't help wondering where she had gotten such an idea. She had seen many, many white visitors during her time at the children's centre. How had she formed the conception that their skin was beautiful and that hers was ugly? I'm sure that nobody had told her that.

Nobody human, that is.

I think Shara was right about the source.

It's the same force behind the idea all over the world that people are either superior or inferior because of their skin colour or facial features. That divides even certain tribes in Ethiopia, as I've heard from an Ethiopian friend, based on their nose structure. That tells people made in the image of God that somehow they weren't made correctly.

This little girl presented it as a troubling mental intrusion that she had to get out to discover if it was true. I hope she was convinced that it wasn't. But I wonder sometimes if she "got it", or if a little girl in Mozambique is growing up with the distorted idea that she is not beautiful.

And I hope that little girl hears God whisper to her, in a stronger voice, the reality that she is.

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Relevant to: Lies + time