No Team Preference: How the Super Bowl Gave Me Hope for a Color-blind Society

Joe Flacco Joe Flacco Like most families in the United States, the kids, my husband and I, gathered around the TV and watched the Super Bowl last weekend. You may have been rooting for a specific team, or you may have been cheering for both sides like my daughter was. The latter reason gives me hope that one day we may actually have a color-blind society.

"He's really cute," my daughter said when the camera panned over to the Raven's helmetless quarterback, Joe Flacco. When they showed his rival, 49ers QB, Colin Kaepernick, just 30 seconds later, she uttered a similar sentiment.

These are two guys on different teams, of different races: one Caucasian; the other bi-racial. But Casey wasn't attracted to them because of their skin tones. Her interest lay instead in one plain and simple fact. She thought they were cute.

I tried not to make a big deal of it, but I couldn't help but be transported back to middle school, when I was with my first boyfriend, John what's-his-name. John was the very first boy I kissed. He was also one of several guys I dated who were white, much to my father's chagrin.

Related: 5 things to teach your kids about handling racism

See, my folks grew up in a very different era. My dad served in a segregated military, and Mom did, too. My mother has told me of the stern warnings she used to receive not to wander off the deep-South base, where she was stationed after dark. She has shared stories of how she and her sister, when taking the train from Boston to visit relatives in Florida, had to move to the back cars when crossing into the South. Against that backdrop, neither of my parents was thrilled with my pubescent penchant for dating white guys.

"I think it's okay for you to date them," my mother said, "but you should marry a black man." When I asked why, she said, "It would be easier."

As a result, I dated white men, one of them very seriously, but, and it pains me to say this, I never saw them as potential mates, in part, due to my parent's advice.

Don't get me wrong; my folks were great. They did what they thought was best, which involved protecting me from prying eyes and rude comments, some of which happened anyway.

Our weddingOur wedding19 years ago, I married a wonderful man, who happens to be black. I'm really not sure if the fact that our skins are the same hue has made marriage any easier; any union presents couples with tough situations -- regardless of their races. Still, I can't imagine telling my daughter or son what my parents told me.

Of course, we live in a different time now, and I pray it's like the one Dr. King envisioned, where people are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Or, as my teen saw it, not by their color -- but because they were cute.

- By Rene Syler
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