For all my friends that know me well know that I hate confrontation and arguments. I would rather just do what needs to be done and avoid it at all costs. But, for the last two nights, when my husband has fallen asleep, I have gone to the bathroom and cried. I have cried over the loss of a man that I didn't even know. I have cried because there is a fear inside of me that wonders if someday this could be my husband or one of my three sons. PROMISE ME YOU WILL READ THE WHOLE THING.
This is not a post about white cops killing black people so please just keep reading. This is a post about a wife and a mother wanting you desperately to understand the world we are living in and the reason we react to certain news stories the way we do. In fear.
When I met Nick, I met a funny, smart, incredibly good looking man. A black man. A black man that became my husband and the father of my three amazing boys. He and my boys did not get to choose what color of skin they have. God did that. And since God is the perfector of all things, I would say their skin is just perfect. Imagine if you had a son/daughter born with down syndrome, mental retardation, born without an arm or a leg, etc, imagine if one of my boys or me and my husband made a joke about them? Remember now, it was only a joke. It would anger you to the core. It would hurt every fiber in your being. Why? Because they didn't choose this disability. They are your son/daughter and you love them no matter what. So imagine when you make a joke to me or my husband about a black stereotype. "Oh Nick doesn't like watermelon. I thought all black people do."It hurts. It's not funny. You may see us laugh it off and shake our head, why? Because if we say anything to you about it, you become defensive and say Oh I was just joking. It was just a joke. It's just a joke to you but your joke is part of the problem. PROMISE ME YOU WILL READ THE WHOLE THING.
Two weeks ago my husband and I were in Walmart. He saw the lady watching him the whole time. We were in the self-checkout. We rang everything up, checked out and left. She was still watching him. We are almost to the door and the cashier comes running to us. "A customer didn't see you scan the two air mattresses. Can I check your receipt?" (A customer?) Yes mam, here it is. "Oh there it is. Sometimes things just don't show up. I didn't see you ring it up." Wait, you first said a customer. Now you say it doesn't always show up. Now you say it was you that didn't see it. See, I know what you are thinking friends, we are making it a race thing. We have had plenty encounters to know when he is being targeted for race and when he is not. So please, don't try and dumb this down to being nothing. That is part of the problem.
Let me ask you a few questions: Have you ever had your 3 year old nephew come home upset because his white friend said he didn't want to play with him because he was black? (Explain that to a 3 year old) Have you ever ridden with your husband through a town where the KKK is still active and fear grips his face because he is just praying we make it through there without breaking down and before it gets dark? Have you ever had someone in the store ask you, "Oh is he yours?" talking about my son. Have you ever had anyone ask you, "Oh, where is she from?" talking about my niece because they thought she was adopted. Have you ever been asked if you are still with THE daddy because you couldn't possibly have the same dad for all three boys and still be with him. Have you ever gone to school to get your Bachelor's degree and people just assume you are there to play sports? My husband did not go to college to play sports. He went to further his education.
I hear what you are saying. Trust me. I know you know us. I know you know what kind of man Nick is and how we are raising our boys but society doesn't. Not everyone sees him as a well educated black man. A black man who was a coach, a middle school teacher and now a High School Youth Minister. Not everyone will see the big heart he has, the hard worker that he is, the compassion that he feels for those in need. They will only see him as a black man. Someone they need to watch closely. We are raising three boys to the best of our ability. God fearing, respectable, hard working, compassionate, kind to everyone. We can do that. We can pray for their protection and pray that they always follow God's heart. We also have to prepare them for the way they will be treated because of the color of their skin. Their skin. Something they did not choose. PROMISE ME YOU WILL KEEP READING.
We always hear that it takes a village to raise our kids and we do. But I need to know that my village is not part of the problem. I need to know that you don't dismiss every story you hear because "people are just playing the race card again." I need to know that you are teaching your kids to love everyone despite their skin color, how much money they have, what kind of car they drive, etc. I need to know that when you pick up my baby that you don't see him as the cutest mixed baby (because apparently all mixed babies are the cutest which just isn't true) but as world changer. I need to know that if someone is being mean to my kid because of the color of their skin that you will have the guts to stand up to them. I need to know that you want to see this world change from the hate that is in it to a world where people are loved not because of the color of their skin but because they are a human being.
And here is where I need you to PROMISE TO KEEP READING because this is where I'll just be real honest. Don't you DARE tell me I shouldn't fear for my husband and sons because it will never happen to them. Don't you DARE tell me that it's different because my husband is not a "thug" and he acts right. Do you know how many people have "acted right" and still been killed? Don't you DARE tell me to sit and talk with an officer about all the crap they have gone through until you have set with my family about all the crap we (including my in-laws) have gone through. (This happened this morning.)
You see, this is not a cop vs black people problem. It is a society as a whole problem. We don't want to acknowledge it unless it affects us directly. I have told stories of things that have happened to me and my husband and people act shocked. "No, not here. Not in our town. I just can't believe that would happen. It must have been a misunderstanding." This is part of the problem. You don't want to see it. You would rather keep your blinders on and hope that someone else fixes the problem.
As a wife and mother, I try not to fear anything for my family. I pray and I try my hardest to trust God in everything. This is what I do know. My family loves the Lord with all their heart. We will serve him despite the news reports. We will serve him no matter how we are treated. We will tell the good news to those who need to hear it. We will raise our boys to be God-fearing men. We will love those who love us and love those who hate us. Will you join us? Will you love no matter what? Will you seek to help those no matter the color of their skin? Will you get out of your comfort zone and try and understand someone else's footsteps who are not like you? Will you be part of the change?