Friday, March 6, 2015
Red and Yellow, Black and White
I love story telling. I especially love it when the story draws you into another world, so to speak, and one has the opportunity to see what it would be like to walk in someone else's shoes. This past Valentine's Day, we watched the movie "42" as a family. I had forgotten what a sweet love story it really is... the beautiful commitment Jackie and Rachel had in the face of extraordinary opposition, in a very racially biased time, is so inspiring. Really, it is nothing short of heroic.
Jason and I were in the van on the way home from school one day, and we entered into a casual conversation about Jackie and his life. My sweet son is so thoughtful and intuitive, and I never really know what is brewing in his reflective mind.
"If I had been born back then, would people be racist towards me," he inquired. "Would people not have let you and Dad get married?"
"Oh, that is so perceptive of you, Jason," I replied. "That is a really big question."
It broke my heart, that our world is such, that it is a question at all. To have Jason thinking that he might be judged based on his race or skin color brought tears to my eyes. While I am not considered a "minority" in America, I did have the experience, as a young adult, where I was judged on being "water" and not "blood." This person made me feel unwanted, not good enough, and a nuisance. Shaking labels like these is difficult, because they stick to the heart and soul, and they try to obliterate love and joy. I continued our conversation, knowing that the hurt from these types of judgments is quite palpable.
We discussed the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr. We talked about how the racial tensions and prejudiced behaviors were primarily between "black and white" at that particular time. Also, how certain parts of the country played a particularly negative role. We also talked about the fact that interracial marriages of any kind tend to be more rare, and that even now, there are people who don't believe in the mixing of any races. Jason realized that he may have never been born if Patrick and I had been raised in another time or place, and that was quite sobering to him. I recalled that even back when I was growing up, I don't remember very much diversity among my friends. It was mostly either all Caucasian or all Asian families in my hometown.
Then we talked about how a lot of things have evolved, over time, in our country. There are a lot more diverse families today, whether it be through marriage or adoption, and that is progress. We know many families in addition to ours who have a beautiful blend of races and ethnicities. While it absolutely doesn't need to be the case in every family, we are both glad that it is much more common and accepted by far more people than it used to be. Far more people are "color" blind.
"When your dad and I were dating," I communicated to Jason, "I don't remember any of our friends ever saying anything negative about our different skin colors or backgrounds. We were just two people who loved each other. Gramma and Poppy never brought it up either. They thought your dad was smart and funny and kind, and they welcomed him into our family and embraced who he was, and who we were together. That was such a blessing and a gift for both your dad and I... to have that acceptance and love was the most important thing we could have received."
"Do you ever feel like someone is being prejudiced against you at school?" I asked.
"No, not really," Jason responded. "People just think I'm weird sometimes."
"Haha! Well, I'm weird, too," I countered. "Hey, do you remember what I like to check off when I'm filling out a form and it asks for racial origins?"
"Ya, you put HUMAN!!"
Yes. We are all just humans in need of a good God, aren't we?