Tuesday, August 13, 2013

the issue of which we don't dare speak...

It's so crazy how I sit down to type out some thoughts about race and suddenly I'm WRACKED with fear and insecurity.  You see, I'm white, so seriously, what do I know when it comes to race?!?  And being white also secretly means that I'm not suppoooooosed to talk about race.  Heck, I'm not even supposed to SEE it.

Or so they say.

I feel like I've poured my heart out on this blog regarding numerous topics, and I'm fairly comfortable doing it.  But when it comes to blogging about issues of race?  Honestly, it's difficult for me.  I feel like I'm going to say something wrong (and I surely will) or make all of you mad (and some of you probably will be).  More than anything, I think I'm afraid that you'll reject me if I think differently than you.  Or maybe I'll be written off and labeled just because I dare to open my mouth (or my writing) about these issues...

These issues of which we don't dare speak.

But the Lord has taken me from such a distant Point "A" to Point "B" on these issues, and obviously, they're rather personal now that I'm a mama to my handsome, chocolate brown baby.  I am bursting at the seams with thoughts and reflections on this issue the more I read, the more I learn, the more I am in community with others who are not like me.

But honestly, I'm hesitant to "go there" and share.  It certainly won't win me any popular votes.

Quite frankly, I know white people NEED to start talking about race.   I know we need to give up the myth of "I don't see color" and stop working so hard to be "colorblind."  I know the intentions behind those statements are good, but the results can be detrimental.  Because what we're really saying to our kids is that race and color are somehow shameful, something that we shouldn't see or talk about.  It's in these "colorblind" beliefs that we are silently perpetuating a subtle form of racism.

Suppose Marc said to me, "Amy, I don't see you as a woman."

Umm, that would be weird, right?  Because that's part of who I am.  It's not all of my identity, but it's a big player in it.  And he is going to ignore it?  If he didn't see me as a woman, how would he see me?

Can it just be OKAY to see race and to talk about it with one another?  Can it be OKAY to admit our own stereotypes and let them be challenged?  Can it be OKAY to have open, honest discussions with people who are different than us, and ask real and honest QUESTIONS?  People of color aren't hush-hushing the topic.  They are comfortable talking about it.  They don't have the luxury to not speak.

Before Jameson entered our family, I never mentioned a word to Caroline about race.  If you think about it, I didn't have to... it has never been a factor for me when I walk into a room, or when I interview for a job, or when I walk into a store, or when I'm walking alone at night.

Before Jameson, I certainly wasn't intentional on buying my children dolls of different skin colors or books with ethnic characters.  (Likely we would have only bought light-skinned dolls, and what might that have subtly taught?)

I never pointed out the beautiful array of skin colors that God displays in His creation.  (but it's there!  He designed it that way!  It's the collection of COLOR that show off His image!)

Oh, how so much has already changed.

Caroline and I talk skin color often.  We relish in God's goodness at making us all unique.

If you think about it, God Himself reflects diversity AND oneness.  He is one God, in three different persons.  To ignore His differences is to ignore who He is in his essence.

I don't think He intends for us to ignore the differences HE created.

How my heart leaps for joy when Caroline carries her black cabbage patch kid in the store with her!  It's a picture of God's image.  She will grow up with such a better understanding of race as she deeply loves her brown brother.

Race is beautiful.  He made it!  And that makes it okay to talk about.

Of course, the flip side of the race topic is a dark one.  One that includes not only a shameful and disgusting history, but a current society still enmeshed in social injustice.   It saddens me to no end the number of people that are like I was and believe that widespread, systemic racism is a thing of the past.

It's okay, though.  It's easy to believe things don't exist anymore if they don't ever cross your actual path.  That's where I was.  Now my eyes have been opened.  And I'm sure I'll be sharing the moments when racism crosses our own path.

You can ignore race, or you can over-emphasize it in a way that downplays our oneness.  Like our Creator, we are one.  Like our Creator, we are NOT the same.

But instead of pretending race doesn't exist,
or that it's the issue of which we don't dare speak,
let's examine our own hearts, find the beauty in each color,
and begin developing our racial literacy
to bring glory to the One
AND the Three.

1 comment:

  1. i think it's interesting HOW our children and we talk about race...it kindof seems similar to sexuality, they begin to notice certain things at certain times and have very acute questions. I've noticed nervousness in my own heart about HOW to answer those questions and so it becomes important to answer the actual questions being asked and not overload them with info that they're not actually looking for. i'm curious to see what Naomi notices over time as there is one other white girl in her class at school, but only white girls in her sunday school class at church. it's been fascinating to see how different my perception of race in urban Houston differed from John's in New Orleans and the deep history of race in the South. this kind of stuff has long fascinated me (race, culture, language) so I love to see your thoughts and how it can both point to the beauty of God and reconcile our splintered humanity.