KORVA COLEMAN, host:
I'm Korva Coleman, and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. In a moment, a new sound from Motown. The group, PPP, is on a mission to remix your ideas about R&B music. We speak to them about their latest CD, "Abundance." But first...
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COLEMAN: Our latest essay from the award-winning series, This I Believe. Here is series curator Jay Allison.
JAY ALLISON: I'm in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. That's where we produce this series. And today's essayist, Sheri White, works right down the block at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She's an assistant scientist there, works in submarines, doing deep sea research. Recently, she came to a local book reading we did for This I Believe, and she decided to write an essay of her own. She put her essay inside the book and gave it to her parents, who were the inspiration for her belief, in the hopes that they might write an essay too. Here is Sheri White with her essay for This I Believe.
Ms. SHERI WHITE: My mother is a geneticist, and from her I learned that despite our differences in size, shape and colors, we humans are 99.9 percent the same. It is in our nature to see differences: skin, hair and eye color, height, language, gender, sexual orientation, even political leanings. But also in our nature, way down in the DNA that makes us human, we are almost identical.
I believe there is more that unites us than divides us. My mother came to the United States from India. She is dark enough that she was refused service in a diner in 1960s' Dallas. My father is a white boy from Indiana whose ancestors came from Germany in the mid-1800s and England in the mid-1600s. I am a well-tanned mix of the two of them.
It seems silly to admit now, but I never noticed that my parents were different colors. One day when I was a junior in high school, I watched my parents walk down the aisle of our church together. They were participating in the service that day, and as they walked, I saw their hands swinging together in unison. I noticed for the first time how dark my mother was and how white my father was. I knew them as my parents before I saw them as people - before I perceived their skin color.
I'm sorry to say that now when I see a mixed-race couple walking down the street, I see the mixed race first and the couple second. When my parents married in 1966, there were still places in this country that had laws against interracial marriage. The landmark Loving versus Virginia case was the following year. My white grandfather, whose father had been a member of the KKK, was not against their marriage, but he was concerned about how others would treat them and about their safety.
Thirty years later, my father fully understood how his father felt when I came out to him as a lesbian. Some of us are men, some are women. Some are gay, some are straight. Some are young, some old. Some are Christian, some Jewish, some Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and some atheist. Some of us are short and others tall. Some right-handed, some left-handed, some disabled. We have lots of differences. We are all unique. But deep down inside us, down in our DNA, we are 99.9 percent the same. And I believe we need to remember that.
ALLISON: Sheri White, with her essay for This I Believe. Sheri says her parents haven't yet written their This I Believe essays, but she's hoping they'll do it now.
And if your listeners want to submit an essay, we hope they'll go to the Web site and send it in soon because after four years, our series has only a couple more months to go on the air. For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.
COLEMAN: Jay Allison is co-editor with Dan Gediman, John Gregory and Vicki Merrick of the book, "This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women." You can find out information about writing for the series at the This I Believe page of npr.org.