Saturday, July 21, 2012

I just wanted some beads: A lesson in racism

I'm white. No way around it. Any way you look at me, I am white. 

My daughter is brown (as she puts it). She's gorgeous. Her skin is perfect, silky almost. Her hair is a mess at times, but I love it- tangles and all :)

We are family. It doesn't matter that our skin doesn't "match". It doesn't matter that society's picture of a family is that all members be the same color. That child is mine. Plain and simple. And as any good momma would, I will fight for her. For the record, I'll do that for both of my kids, but this post is about racism, and I digress. 

Yesterday I went into a hair supply store because next week Ellie is getting her hair done, and I wanted some new beads to put in it. I JUST WANTED SOME BEADS, PEOPLE. I was minding my own business, picking out my beads when I overheard a lady in the back of the store say, "Oh great. Here we go again. Another ****** white lady who thinks she has the right to raise one of our black babies. I'm so sick of this". 

I ignored her. It wasn't the time or the place, and she obviously wasn't interested in hearing the statistics of the orphan crisis in Ethiopia and the world.  I JUST WANTED SOME BEADS

I went to the check out counter with my beads, and the lady came to the front of the store. I can't write here what she said to me because my momma reads this, and she'd freak out to hear that language from my hand. To be honest, I'm not sure I remember everything she called me or screamed because I JUST WANTED SOME BEADS! 

I paid and made a dash for the door to get out of there. After all, I wasn't interested in hearing anymore of her ranting, and I JUST WANTED SOME BEADS. But she followed me out the front door into the parking lot. I got into my car, and she went to stand behind it so that I couldn't leave. 

Y'all... I JUST WANTED SOME BEADS. Yet here I was thinking that this lady was gonna lose it completely and try to kill me or something. I sat in the car for a few minutes, hoping she'd get tired of screaming and leave me alone. But the store worker called the police because the lady chased me out of the store while holding merchandise she had not yet paid for. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up! 

I JUST WANTED SOME BEADS, but here I was now waiting for the police to come so I could go home. Luckily, there was a police officer next door at the gas station who heard the chaos and came to check things out. He tried talking to her, and she was screaming that I was stealing a baby, that I needed to go to jail, etc etc. He handcuffed her (for shoplifting) and then actually checked my car to make sure I didn't have a baby hidden in there. I told him "I just wanted some beads. She went nuts". 

I was pretty shook up at first, admittedly. But then I was angry. And tonight I'm even more angry. I'm not angry at her per se, but I'm angry at the perception that I'm not good enough to parent my beautiful daughter because I'm white. Now hear me say this: Most people have been amazingly supportive of our journey. But the truth is I don't need the approval of others for this. We did this because Ellie deserved a family, and God led us to her. And I'd do it all over again, even if every single day was like yesterday. Because Ellie is worth it. Her life was no accident, and her being in our family isn't either. 

Ellie belongs here in this family. And if I were green, she'd still belong here. My son happens to be white and look like Jeff and I, and he belongs here too. We see no difference, and I'll defend that with anyone who wants to argue otherwise. I don't know everything there is about raising a brown skinned girl or taking care of Ethiopian hair, but I'm learning. I mess up, and sometimes she goes out with uneven pony tails and messy braids. Sometimes I forget to put lotion on, and her skin gets ashy. Sometimes I forget to put her nightcap on her hair at night, and sometimes I remember but we can't find that darn cap! 

And guess what? I don't know all there is about raising a white boy either, yet here I am doing that too. I screw up with him just as much, if not more, than I do with her Ellie because he's a guy, and well... I'm not. 

But this I do get right: I love my kids. Fiercely. I'd give my very life for either one of them, and never even have to think about it. I love them. I'm not their buddy; I'm their mom. I tell them I love them all the time (sometimes more than they want to hear it). And I mean it. I'm not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I love them.

 And there is no color to love. It just is. 

So, for those of you out there who may be thinking that this white girl has no business raising a brown girl... keep it to yourself. Because I am tired of hearing it. I'm absolutely done with that kind of garbage. If you could see the things I've seen, the looks on the faces of children who desperately want to belong to a family, you'd understand that color doesn't matter. And you'd stop putting all of this energy into attacking those of us who just want to raise our kids and put it into something that matters in life. I'm absolutely certain that if given the choice between no family and a white family, Ellie would have chose family over color. 

That girl is gonna look awesome in those beads next week!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Conviction of my heart...

This morning, I walked into my office ready to face the challenges of the day. I had been jamming to some great praise and worship music on my way in, spent time talking to God this morning and was feeling good. Despite the pitiful night's sleep I got (thank you, crazy CATS!), I was eager to work.

And then my phone rang.

Everything changed when the lady on the phone was at first complaining and blaming me for something I cannot change (I'm not a doctor, okay?), then was yelling at me. This happens a lot in my work. Failure to plan ahead on the part of a parent somehow equals my emergency or my fault. I'm used to it, and most days it doesn't bother me that much. I remind myself of the chaotic lives that many of our families here live, as well as the stress that poverty places on families, and I'm okay to be the one they "vent" to.
But this morning, it went right through me! I was mad. I wanted to yell back at her. Heck, I wanted to call her names too! Believe me when I say that she was MILD in comparison to what I often hear in a day, so I was perplexed as to why I was reacting som vehemently. Yet there I was, wanting to scream and yell and act like a fool. I'm actually quite grateful that she was so angry that she hung up on me!
I sat in my chair for a while, just processing this in my mind. And then I charted what had occurred. And then I opened the Word because obviously my soul was in need of some nourishment!

Scripture says this: "Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you". (Ephesians 4:29-32)

Humility set in like a hurricane, crashing down the walls of my self-preserving inclinations. The only reason I wanted to lash out at that lady was to make myself look and feel better. And quite frankly, I think that's why all back-biting and negative speak exists. We want to look better, so we point out the flaws of others. We want to feel better, so we make others feel worse. I see it on facebook all the time: people making fun of others, lashing out, pointing out someone's mistakes, making themselves seem bigger than they really are so someone else will look smaller, making others look less important than us by elevating our importance.
Jesus said that the "first shall be last and the last will be first" (in Matthew 19). So why do I spend so much time trying to look better to others? Why not spend my time trying to be more like Christ? I'm guessing Christ would have spoken love to the lady on the phone this morning. I'm guessing He wouldn't speak rudely of having to wait at the doctor's office because He understood that there was another patient who needed the doctor's time emergently. I'm guessing Christ wouldn't proudly announce that he had "told that person off" or "blessed them out", but He would have loved. Simply loved. And by doing so, He changed those around Him for the better.

Thank goodness for second (and third, fourth and fifth) chances. Oh, my phone is ringing again. Wish me luck...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why I Won't Be Seeing Magic Mike...My Personal Thoughts

This post won't be popular among some, I'm sure. I'm totally okay with that. After all, this is my blog. I've used it mostly to discuss adoption matters, clean water, family things, and my thoughts on this walk with God in life. But I would be completely remiss if I didn't post what is burning in my heart these past few days. I've watched the outpouring of ladies raving about their most recent girl's night out to see "Magic Mike", and really my heart can't take much more.

Before you dismiss me entirely, please hear me out. I don't live in the dark ages. I am certainly not perfect in any stretch of the imagination, so don't hear this as judgmental against anyone who chooses to see it. I'm writing this for one reason: To declare to my husband publicly (and to others who may be struggling with this) that I don't need a movie to make me excited about sex.
Come on, ya'll.... it's totally ok that I said "sex". I mean, after all, isn't that what this is all about? Why else are women of all ages flocking to see this movie? Seriously, these fellas are not going to win Oscars for their acting in this movie. This is about sex, lust, and all those other things that make lots of money at the box office. And I, for one, don't need a movie for that. I've got all the sex I want here at home with a man who is true, devoted, and faithful to me alone.
In all seriousness, what has bothered me the most is to hear ladies talking about how this is "the most excited" they've been in a while. Well, not me....

Jeff and I have been married almost 19 years (august 7th we will celebrate that anniversary!), and my stomach still has butterflies when he walks in the room. He still "makes my liver quiver", "turns me on", "gets me going", or however else you want to explain it. The fact of the matter is... He's the only one for me. And no one else is supposed to get the privilege of doing that for me. No one (or no thing, aka movie) is supposed to turn my head the way Jeff does. And it's my responsibility to make sure that happens. That means, I'm not supposed to be putting things in front of me that will cause me to look elsewhere (like movies or 'those' books that are so popular these days).

On August 7, 1993 I made a vow to Jeff- to love and to honor him for all the days of my life. And I intend to do just that. I took those vows seriously that day, and I still do all these years later. I believe that this is the most important vow I've taken in my life second to my commitment to follow after Jesus. This vow we made is the crux of what makes us such a strong family. You see, we didn't just make it to each other; we made that commitment to God Himself, and I take that VERY seriously. I believe that our children are better because we take that vow seriously. I believe that we are better because of it. I believe that God is honored because of it.

The Bible says that "A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands" (Proverbs 14:1). Personally, I don't want to tear down my home. It is my belief that when I tear down my husband, I tear down my home. And putting lust for someone else above Jeff tears him down whether I want to admit it or not. Go ahead, and call me old fashioned or whatever you want; I don't mind. I've got a marriage I'm proud of, and I'll take that over favor with others any day of the week.

Let me just end with this. I'm not perfect. I've said that before, but it bears saying again. And part of the reason I'm able to say such great things about my marriage is because my husband just totally ROCKS. He is serious about his vows too, and therefore, I've never really been in want for his time, attention and devotion. It certainly makes this whole thing much easier, so kudos to him for being so easy to love. Now, who wants to babysit because I'm thinking it's time for a date?!?