I sat on the couch breathless as the Grand Jury results were released on CNN. There would be no indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the tragic death of Michael Brown. Brown’s death was tragic because it was unnecessary, no matter where we place fault. And the tragedy continued as small business-owner’s had their life and livelihood burned down, stores were ravaged and an entire community was completely ruined.
I watched until I couldn’t watch anymore.
We talked about it, for days. We muddled through the events, the quick shift in the tide of the Nation and how our world needs, well let’s be real, it needs Jesus. But we didn’t just talk about it from a middle-class, churched, Suburban America perspective. We talked about it from the perspective of black, Hispanic, white, mixed and law enforcement—because our family is all of those things.
I am white.
My husband is black—his background is in law enforcement, he is currently a forensic investigator with a Masters in Criminal Justice.
My two (step)daughters are black.
My son and daughter are half Hispanic, half white.
My youngest son is half black and half white.
We are a blended, bi-racial family.
We have learned that the world is very jaded and racism is alive and breeding right here, down your street, in your family, at your church. It is based on ignorance, and lack of respect for the whole of humanity.
We have heard comments like:
“What is it like to have a black step dad?”
“Wow, your kids look really Mexican.”
“Your mom is white? That’s not your mom!”
“How is that your last name, you don’t even look Hispanic at all?”
When my husband and I started dating, I was on the receiving end of racism for the first time in my life. I married a black man, and the black community has not always welcomed me.
Recently my son texted me this photo found on the wall in his high school, where the demographic is predominately Hispanic:
When we walk into a restaurant, we get glances and blatant stares. People don’t know what to make of us. My kids have fun with it. I was at Walmart with all five of them, and they convinced everyone I was their adoptive mom, who rescued them from the foster system. I walked out of that store a saint that day.
But I am their mom, 3 of the 5 came out of my womb. My husband is their dad—biologically 3 of the 5. We don’t see our race, our color, or origin. We are family. I don’t think about my husband being black, and don’t look at my kids as Mexican or Hispanic. They are just my kids. We don’t have to “work hard” at not seeing the color of our eyes or skin or hair as a definition of who we are.
So when these things happen—these racially charged issues, these murders, these injustices—we are forced to reconcile who we are individually and as a whole—and re-examine our worldview.
My husband’s perspective is unique. He has been a patrol officer, in dangerous situations with all races. He is military combat trained, he is highly educated, and considering law for his future. But he is also black, and has been on the receiving end of profiling of police officers, where respect and courtesy only come to him AFTER the police officer finds out he too is in law enforcement. Being a former officer, and a current investigator he also has great respect for law, and the reality of consequences for our actions.
I grew up in a predominately white family, although my step-dad is Hispanic and my younger brother is white and Hispanic. I lived a somewhat sheltered life, and my grandparents, who were influential in raising me, grew up in segregated Texas. They were loving and accepting of all people, yet traces of their childhood remained.
My son and daughter are also mixed with Hispanic and white. They are influenced by both races, and are exposed to their Hispanic culture, yet don’t see themselves as anything but simply, people.
My (step)daughters grew up in a predominately black community. They went to an all black private school, and attended an all black church. As they have grown up, they have embraced the diversity of our world, and love people just because they are people.
Then there is the youngest: Half black, half white, with 2 black sisters, and a Hispanic brother and sister. He gets lots of questions, and I’m grateful that he has yet to experience any overt racism.
But as we sit and watch CNN and read the tweets—and we hear of police officers being murdered, it all hits us, because we are all of those things. We aren’t just the white cop who was the shooter, or the black teenager who was shot—we are both. We aren’t just the people angry at the injustice of the world or just the police officer who got killed leaving his family behind, we are both.
We can’t pick a side, because there is no side to pick.
I remember dreading time on the playground during recess when teams got picked to play soccer. That was the worst feeling, not knowing if you were even going to get picked at all. But it didn’t really matter as long as you got to play.
Somehow, our society believes that we have to pick a team, but by picking a team, we are leaving out the most important thing—the privilege of humanity. We watch the racial divide growing, and are stunned at the growing fire of racism because we know it’s possible…It is possible to look beyond stereotypes.
It is possible to look at a person’s actions apart from their skin color.
It is possible to embrace humanity.
It is possible to take responsibility for who you are, without blame.
It is possible to co-exist.
It is possibly to live in harmony.
It is possible to simply love.
I don’t have any other solution but this:
We must learn to love, in an unconditional way, with deep humility and passionate servanthood. We must teach our kids, and every other kid we are in contact with, ever in our entire life, that people are human—not black or white or Hispanic or Asian or … We must push our kids out of their comfort zones—we must push them into situations where they are forced to see the world through a multi-colored lens. (I know too many kids who live in middle-class bubbles whose parents won’t make the effort to expand their perspective on the world. Not just from a race perspective, but from a socio-economic one as well). We must take responsibility for our own thoughts, ideas, and the conclusions we jump to because it’s the way we have always thought.
We must challenge ourselves to walk through Samaria, and talk to those we wouldn’t normally talk to, regardless of how they dress, or what type of education they have or what they have done in their past. We can’t change this generation, but we can change the next!
But we can’t do that alone.
Until we admit that we need help, until we humble ourselves, and admit that we need the power of Jesus to flow into us and then out of us, we will remain the same—living in the impossible.
It is only in Christ that all things are possible.
I’m grateful for my possible– for my bi-racial, blended family. I believe, even in our imperfections and failures, we are a picture of the power of the love of Christ!