** Editors note **
This post was written a year ago and just sat in my unpublished drafts. For a long time I haven’t been a good place in regards to race so I’ve buried my head in the sand. I don’t talk much about race and the role it plays in politics, religion and our daily lives.
Honestly I’m still not in a good space to want to converse or open up some life changing dialogue but I’m proud of this piece I wrote last year and thought it needed to be posted.
So here you go …
I’ll start from the beginning.
EJ: “I want to be white.”
Me: *confused look* .. “Why is that son?”
EJ: “Because Jesus is white.”
Me: “Jesus wasn’t white EJ ….”
So here we are during bath time and the last thing I thought I would have to explain to my 8 year old son was the idea of “white Jesus.” Fear not I will not go into a theological blog post of why Jesus wasn’t white.
However if you simply pull out a map and a Bible you’ll see very clearly that Jesus was not Anglo Saxon with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was most likely of Middle Eastern decent. (Debate your snaggletooth Auntie if you have a problem with that.)
Like, dude wasn’t white and that’s perfectly fine.
Anyway my concern wasn’t that EJ thought Jesus was white. What hurt was the fact that he didn’t appreciate (or should I say, understand and/or embrace) his blackness.
Real talk as a black man this was a smack to the face and I had to process this before I let my emotions react.
For my white friends who really truly mean well. Herein lies the danger of this mythical “I-don’t-see-color-society.” Listen closely.
Black is beautiful. Period.
Listen, Me saying black is beautiful doesn’t mean all other colors are not. Since birth all I have ever known is “black.” I didn’t realize it as a child but black parents have the task of raising their children not to be angry at America’s tumultuous relationship with people of color.
At the same time they have to raise their kids to love everyone regardless of color all the while educating them on how if they lived in 1962 they couldn’t drink out the same water fountain as others. It is our duty to educate our kids about our history and yes that includes cops sicking dogs on us, pouring bleach in pools so we couldn’t swim and shooting us with fire hoses and guns.
It’s a strange dichotomy but we all try to maneuver the duality of embracing blackness and it’s beautiful yet painful and rich history while simultaneously letting go of the anger from injustice and racism.
Yes I know white people experience racism but I think Chris Rock said it best.
“There isn’t a white man in America that would trade places with me and I’m rich.”
So here I am as a father, someone who has experienced unfairness by police yet still teaching my kids to trust law enforcement. I have to tell my beautiful dark skinned baby girl that she is beautiful all the while she’s living in a world surrounded by pretty white dolls and white faces on magazine covers. There are very few things in society to tell her blackness is beautiful.
This isn’t a popular thing to say but black people live in two Americas. And before you get all sanctimonious this is coming from a someone who lived it. During the week going to a predominately white school and then on the weekends experiencing blackness from my church. I was embraced by both environments but I was never comfortable with my blackness around whites and never felt “black enough” around my black friends.
There is a real difference in predominantly black communities vs white communities. And listen to me closely, differences don’t make one better or worse than the other. The reality is this:
Our barbershops are different.
Our schools are different.
Our churches are different.
We season our food different.
The way we interact with our own is just different. However because we (blacks and whites) never communicate about our differences we define different as bad. We have built this alternate colorless universe in which we are all grey people who love and adore each other.
So when a discussion comes up about race instead of real dialogue happening the “I-don’t-see-color-card” is played and progress isn’t made. The reality is black people hate when you don’t see color. When you don’t see color you don’t see me. My blackness is beautiful and it has story to tell. Differences can be celebrated and laughed at and used to bring us closer.
When I tell my son it’s O.K to say Black lives matter, he understands that his best friend Trent (who is White) or his friend Lucas (who is Asian) that their lives matter too. When I buy my beautiful chocolate princess a shirt that says Black girls are magic it’s doesn’t mean that her friends are any less magical.
Empowering black and demeaning other races are two lanes that have nothing to do with each other.
I can’t teach my kids about their Iris, Polish, and Swedish heritage because our history was taken from us so all that we have ever had in this word was black.
We got to be black.
So black is what we celebrate.
In February ..
For 28 days.
Rinse and Repeat
O.K I’m done
Now what? …