October 14, 2013

You're Black, He's White. Stop Caring and Move Forward.

"I'm Black, He's White - Who Cares" so goes the title of an excellent piece featured on Literally, Darling. But the point the writer makes is that the Who in the title is acutally Her. She cares.

More specifically, she's scared. Primarily for her future children - whether they be bi-racial or black. In a way, her fear is justified based on her past experiences -- not being "black enough" for black folk, or confusing to white folk, or having her coupledom visually and verbally demeaned -- none of which is out of the ordinary for any black or brown person or mismatched couple in our pre and even post racial society.

Listen, Jazmine (that's her name): I feel your pain, Girly. But allow this black wife who's married to a white guy and who's also a mom to a biracial kid, and most importantly who's twenty-plus-years your senior, to pass on some unsolicited words of wisdom.

It's in the rear-view mirror, and you're not backing up. Look ahead and keep moving. Sweetie, I remember being ostracized by the black kids in the elementary grades through high school because I was an "Oreo" (black on the outside, white on the inside). I've received my share of "compliments" from white people who have said (in genuine kindness) that I didn't act/sound/talk "white." Surprising? At times. Exasperating? Always. But you move on. You move beyond it and flourish in the places where you allow your talent to take you.

God knows people can be idiots, that's why He makes kids resilient.
A six year old girl was riding her bicycle, looping around her block again and again, when a car slowed. Not stopped, just slowed down enough for the teenaged boys inside to yell Nigger at the little girl. It was her first introduction to that word and how some of God's children can act like real idiots.

That six year old was me, Jazmine. As a mom, I think of how it must have ripped my mom apart when I burst through the front door, winded and frightened from what should have been just another loop around our block.

She didn't want that for me because she had probably been through it too.

But here's the key: my mom had been through it...and came out on the other side. So did I.
Now, do I want my daughter to experience anything remotely like that?

Of course not. But until all of God's children start acting like all of God's children, there's a likelihood that my daughter may face some sort of ugliness too. But she'll get through it. Maybe a little wounded. But smarter, stronger and wiser. Through it.

The 99% Rule is in effect when you're married. Meaning that 99% of the time, race won't be an issue when you've pledged that grave and somber oath in front of God and everybody to stay with someone until one of you keels over. Let's see, you're twenty-one now, so the "until one of you keels over" part takes the two of you through menopause, possibly erectile dysfunction, most likely shingles (if you believe those scary commercials), dentures, gray hair, sagginess and bagginess...Not thinking about race now, are you?

In the thirteen years we've been together, and eleven of them married, race has only been the source of an argument intense conversation once. And even then, race -- or in this case, ethnicity was only the by-product and not the crux of the argument intense conversation. It was about hair. Hair. My husband just could not wrap his head around why a trip to the salon would take three hours. I'd be under the dryer and/or in any stage of conditioning and/or having the naps smoothed out to combable when he'd annoy call/text me with "HOW MUCH LONGER? THIS IS RIDICULOUS." So I had to educate him. Very loudly.

Okay wait:

Actually race came up again, this time more directly. And it wasn't an argument or intense conversation. We were watching that movie about the guy who lived with grizzly bears in Alaska. The guy was like fifty feet away from this killing-machine-of-a-bear, cooing at it and calling it pet names. I looked at my betrothed and said:

"Um...I don't wanna get all racial or anything, but that's Your People right there. My People aren't trying to get eaten by bears."

He agreed.

The bigger point here, Jazmine, is that throughout your married life, race is completely and totally dead last on the challenges you'll experience as a couple. Have I been angry enough to shake my beloved until his teeth rattled? Definitely. Were any of those instances related to race?
Not.
Even.
They were all related to him being....well, him. And I'm quite certain the times he's wanted to reciprocate said teeth rattling with me had everything to do with me being...well, me.
Not a race.
Not an ethnicity.
Just me.

Just us.
Just stupid people outside and inside of our neighborhoods who we can't control.

Jazmine-honey, the world can be scary, but don't let that stop you from moving forward, and realizing that you and any of your future kids are more resilient than you think

...and before you know it, you can look forward to keeling over side-by-side with the right guy for you.
Okay, well maybe not the keeling over part, but you get the picture.

12 comments:

  1. You guys look great - and happy - together...cue the Turtles :)

    Great response - and who know, Rochelle? Maybe she'll be able to listen to her heart long enough to drown out the background noise, mostly generated by others.

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    1. Aw thanks, Rick...and now "Happy Together" is today's earworm. But a good one. :)

      Keeping my fingers crossed for that young lady...

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  2. In the word's of Phil Hartman doing Ed McMahaon, " You ARE correct!" My personal favorite is that ol' chestnut, "You didn't sound black on the phone..." I hope that she and her beau don't let others dictate their happiness and relationship. As long as they keep communicating, they will be fine!

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    1. My fave by Ed McMahon was his robust "YES!!" Oh, and the phone thing? Check that one off the list too.

      She's young...she'll figure it out.

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  3. "Damn that's good. Really good."- My mind says while finishing this post. I love your wisdom, insight and most of all TRUE generosity of grace... and you know exactly where to focus those beautiful eyes of yours. This is SUCH a powerful message here. I must share it everywhere, Rochelle. BRAVO BRAVO!!!

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    1. Thank your mind for liking this, Chris. :)
      You make me blush...Thanks for reading and for sharing.

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  4. I think the same advice could be applied to so many surface differences. God knows people can be idiots - that's why he made kids resilient? Love that. As well as the advice to keep moving forward - and to flourish despite what "they" say. Love this.

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    1. Thanks Ilene. I figured out the resilient kid thing when I accidentally kicked my then toddler in the face. Yes. In the face. She blinked, didn't cry and that's when the resiliency thing stuck. Poor kid.

      Thanks for reading.

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  5. Awesome post, thank you for writing it! I too am in a similar situation and we don't even think about. I have had ALL the same things happen to me as a child and as an adult. People think it's their prerogative to comment on your life, never understood why. I could care less what they do. I worry about what my sons will experience mostly when they are older but only in the sense that I think it's stupid that they should have to "experience" anything. But like you said, kids bounce back. They don't care especially if mom and dad don't make a mountain out of a molehill.

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    1. You know what, Michelle? People like us oughta speak up and speak out more because pop culture would have one believe there's all these racial/ethnic layers to navigate, when the root of any marriage snags is because nine times out of ten the guy's wrong and the woman's right.

      Wait a minute: did I just said that out loud? ;)

      Thanks for reading and commenting...and thank God for making kids resilient.

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  6. Dad blammit, I adore you!!!

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    1. Language, young lady, LANGUAGE!
      :)
      Thanks so much. Feeling the love and warm fuzzies.
      xo

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