The American Race:
Woven of Many Strands
Today's Snack: Take a
handful of pretzel sticks in your hand and eat them as if they were one big
piece. Then take another handful . . . and another! Wash it all down with a
glass of apple juice.
Five or more spools of
thread, ideally white, dark brown, light brown, copper, silver, green, gold,
orange and purple
Here's a way to understand how
important it is to have unity. In the United States, we believe we all come
under one flag no matter how different we might be individually - how different
our backgrounds might be, our jobs, our grades, our religions . . . and our
A famous African-American writer
named Ralph Ellison put it best. Ellison (1913 - 1994), was author of the 1952 book
Invisible Man. It won the National
Book Award in 1953. It described in a powerful way how it felt to be black in
the 1940s, when white people practically ignored those of other races, as if
they were invisible.
But Ellison refused to sink into bitterness and hate
over racism. Instead, he pointed out what is good about the racial blending
that we have in this country:
America is woven of many strands. I would recognise
them and let it so remain. Our fate is to become one, and yet many. This is not
prophecy, but description.
Actually, the idea that something
that is united from many pieces is better and stronger than something that's
just by itself dates a lot farther back than the 20th Century, when
Ellison was writing. One of the oldest books of the Bible, Ecclesiastes,
written by King Solomon around 935 B.C., covered the same ground in Chapter 4,
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand
him; and a threefold cord is not
It's even more true when there are
more than three cords. Here's a way for you to check to see if this is true.
Take a spool of thread, pull out some thread alongside your ruler, and measure
out 12". Cut it off.
Take the 12" of thread and try to
break it. Can you simply pull it apart? Can you hold both ends and snap it
apart over the back of your chair?
You probably can. One thread is not
all that strong.
But now let's say that that one
thread represents just one of the races that make up the United States. Let's
have other threads, representing the other races, join that thread into a
You could symbolize this by cutting out more 12"
lengths of thread in these colors, representing these races:
Dark brown: African-American
Light brown: Hispanic
Copper: Native American
Silver: Alaskan Inuit / Aleutian
Green: Polynesian / Pacific Islander
Orange: Middle Eastern
Purple: All others
Now you have nine strands of thread, each
representing a different skin color. Twist these threads around, between your
fingers, to make them into one strand.
NOW try to break this new, united strand. Can you do
it with your bare hands, just by pulling apart, or over the back of your chair,
the way you could with the one single strand?
Most probably, not.
See how much strength comes from unity? May the
people of our nation always remember that that's so.
Now wrap those threads around your wrist and have
someone tie a double-knot and clip the ends. Wear your "American Unity" bracelet