I’m not passionate about racial equality because I married a black man.
I’m also not passionate about racial equality because we live in a city that prides itself on diversity, or because I’ve been waywardly influenced by a leftist Bay Area agenda, or because I stake claim to a God of extreme justice and mercy toward all humanity.
I’m passionate about racial equality because I’m passionate about human beings.
You may remember the discussion the HBH and I have been having with our young boy, when we’re driving and when we’re hiking, when we’re at the park and when we’re walking down Lakeshore toward our favorite frozen yogurt shop.
“Who’s that?” almost three-year-old Cancan asks aloud.
“That’s a person.”
“That’s a person, too.”
“Well, because persons are humans.”
“Well, because humans matter, buddy. You and me, we matter. And every single person on this earth, they’re humans, and they matter just because they’re humans.”
So in that way, when we gather with the people around us, we want and we desire for our children to see the beauty – the Beauty – of diversity that exists in our neighborhood. We want them to see the Chinese family to our right, and the childless white couple to our left. We want them to know the lesbians and the older Japanese couple and the Latino family and the young black and Puerto Rican family who live 1-2-3-4, like ducks in a row across the street.
But then this question pops up:
“You say you want the boys to grow up in a place in which there’s people who look like Mommy and Daddy,” one friend said to me, “but do they really see color? Do they actually know the difference?”
And I don’t know the answer to that question.
I do know that a year or so ago, during our nightly dancing ritual, Cancan looked at a static picture of Bruno Mars on the screen and shouted, “Dada!” When Kelly Clarkson appeared, Mama. And when the gorgeous face of Alicia Keys floated by, (the even more gorgeous) Nana.
So was my son merely making associations, or did neurological connections actually represent something deeper?
I’m choosing to believe that he what he sees before him, who he sees before him, is making a difference and an impact in his life.
And that seeing it matters.
I want him to live and breathe and find his being surrounded by red and yellow, black and white. And, lest you think that this Sunday School song is over too soon, I want him to come to intrinsically know and believe that all are precious in His sight.
I want him to fight when he encounters injustice, to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. I want him to listen more than he speaks and I want him to not only see that kid standing by himself in the corner, but offer kindness to that kid standing in the corner. I want him to learn to love those that don’t look like him and act like him, believe like him or play like him. But more than anything, I want him to believe so deeply not the races but in The Race, as in the whole human race, with all its intricate, delicate, beautiful mess.
Maybe, at the end of the day, the question of seeing and appreciating race is not just a yes, but it’s a transcendence and an awareness over the yes. For our family, we continue to live in the both/and: we live intentionally and we “church” intentionally in places that we’re not alone in our diversity. But we also don’t discriminate or show bias about who enters our lives – we don’t base our relationships on a model of affirmative action.
But we do live in the beauty and the tension.
We do live in the in-between and the holy not-yet.
As I hope you do as well.
So, want to know more? Educate yourself.
Purposefully make friends with someone who doesn’t look like you.
Get to know a culture you’re not familiar with.
Join a cause, join the cause. Don’t glaze over Black Lives Matter headlines, but get involved. Be the movement.
Read. Be educated. Here are four of my favorite books that engage issues of race, three of which are fiction (because fiction, as we all know, is so full of truth):
To Kill a Mockingbird: A classic. And a must re-read if you haven’t read it since your 9th grade English class. We discussed this the other night at book club, and marveled over what it must have meant to America when it won the Pulitzer in ’61, at the start of the Civil Rights Movement. I can’t even imagine. (And a must re-read, as Lee’s Go Set a Watchman comes out in July).
Go Tell It on the Mountain: I’m actually reading this book right now, but am entrenched in the harsh beauty and reality of the Christian church in the lives of African Americans in Baldwin’s semi-autobiographical novel.
Just Mercy: Absolutely, hands-down the best non-fiction book I’ve read this year (and one I’m trying to get every human I come in book-contact with to read). You can read more of my thoughts here, but otherwise, run, run, run to the library or to Amazon or to your local bookstore and pick it up.
Let’s continue to enter the beauty and the tension together.
What about you? Do you agree or disagree with my words? Do kids see color? Does this discussion matter?