I am going to share something that I don’t talk about a lot.
That 25 year old brown girl up there came straight from me. My first husband was a black man. We were married for a very short time, I was very young, and out of that came this gorgeous baby girl of mine. It’s been one of those shame/miracle stories and I usually just talk about the miracle side, her.
I live in a very white society. Utah is not a diverse place. When I got pregnant with Mady, not only did I live in Utah but I lived in Cedar City which was white and very small town. Dating a black man wasn’t a rebellious thing to me, he was nice to me in a time when I needed someone to be nice to me. Period. I didn’t care what color he was.
I grew up in the 70’s & 80’s in Utah County. I think I maybe went to school with five black kids my entire school career. There were a few Native American kids but I really don’t remember anything other than lots of white faces. My older brother was in the army and he would bring black friends home sometimes; they were welcomed, fed, and I loved anyone that was associated with my older brother. My other brother’s best friend was from Vietnam. He, again, was welcome in our home anytime. He annoyed me, but if he was there, that meant my older brother was there, and I loved that!! My point is, I never saw anyone not welcomed into our home. I didn’t know anything about my parents being racist. I didn’t see it, even if it was there, and I certainly didn’t learn it from anyone. I am so grateful for that. So grateful that I was just taught that we take care of people.period.
The youngest daughter coming home pregnant with a black man’s child was what brought it out. My mom was great after the initial shock. My dad didn’t talk to me for about 6 months and swore the baby would never be his grandchild. Guess what? She was the love of his life. Our relationship was never the same, but he loved her and that mattered more. My first husband was welcomed into our home. He would come and spend weekends and both of my parents treated him kindly. My 6 brothers and sisters and all of their families treated him like he was one of the family. Even after things happened that were not good, my family was kind to him.
There were racist comments from others and lots of stares but nothing I couldn’t deal with. Luckily I was already such a wild child that not much was expected from me. 🙂 The sad thing was, the people who made those comments were people I had admired and after that, they were not the same people to me. I knew they were good people but they had been taught the wrong things. They had been taught that somehow someone with brown skin was not as worthy of the good things in life as someone with light skin. That my white skin and his brown skin should not ever touch. We were together a very short time but I learned a lot about how the world viewed us.
I can’t speak for my daughter’s experiences. They are her own, and I will never understand what it means to be brown skinned in this very white skinned place we live in. My youngest two face the same problems. I always worry about dating and friends. Who will be the family that doesn’t want their son to date my daughter? Who will be the kid that calls them the n word? How many adults will think it’s ok to touch their hair and comment over and over about it? Obviously they are different and guess what? Teenage girls hate to be different. They want to look like every one else. Who will be the people who point out to them all the ways they are different? We started at day one helping them know how special they are. How beautiful their brown skin is, how amazing those curls are, how those magical, so brown they are almost black, eyes are gorgeous. How long will it last? It depends on all of those outside voices, like it or not. We can build up and teach them to love themselves but, let’s face it, being a teen girl is hard.
I’ve always been so grateful for the others who came before and paved the way. Grateful that I was allowed to give birth to my first child and keep her. Grateful that he wasn’t hung from a tree because I got pregnant. Grateful that this white family could adopt our little brown babes. I can’t express to you how many times I have been so so thankful that we live now instead of then.
I have never been scared for my girls until now. I’ve worried and been angry when we have dealt with racist comments. But never scared for them. I’ve never worried about grown adults being mean to them or saying things to them. It hasn’t happened. I hope it never does. But now that possibility is there. There are adults in this country who now feel like it is right for them to spew hate. Who feel like it is their right to spread their disease around freely. What are these people teaching their children? Hate. Hate towards these beautiful brown girls of mine. For no other reason then the color of their skin.
I could ramble on for another three pages…my mind is in a flurry today.
This is my plea. Please please please teach love and, for the love of all things holy, stick up for what is good and decent. My girls are just like your children. They deserve to feel safe. They deserve to think that the adults around them are not ok with what is happening. The KKK should not be proudly represented in public places in 2017 in America. Every person should just know that. How do they not??!!
I will share something with you, at our house we see color but at the same time we don’t. When people stare at us, sometimes I literally have a hard time figuring out why. I forget that we don’t look like your ‘normal’ family. We are each other’s, same colored skin or not. When I look into those beautiful faces all I see are my girls. My amazing girls who deserve all the safety and freedom that any other girl has.
Peace. Please just peace.