One of my most dreaded moments as a mother has not yet arrived yet. Oh I already know what it is and I already know it will one day be here. It is not a matter of it it will happen, it's a matter of when it will happen. I pray that God will give me the words to speak truth, grace and healing towards it as well.
One day my black children will ask the question “why?”. They won't get it. They will not believe what they are hearing. Could it be true that people that looked like them really had to use a different bathroom just because they were black.
One day they'll ask how people could not like someone just because of the color of their skin. How could it be. As children they are not looked upon as they are different. It hasn't happened yet. Oh but it will. There are still people out there that do not see people as equal. They might not even know that they don't see people as equal. Hatred and discrimination is well hidden in their hearts and minds. So well hidden that they don't even see it. It will happen when my children are older. Those same people that thought they were so cute as kids will see them differently. You think I'm crazy. Oh no, you just wait.
We talk a lot around here about God making people different. How would the world be if everyone looked the same. We see differences in not only skin, but also in hair, eyes, teeth, shape and height. The list of differences between us all could go on for a long time. God is creative and we like to express that to our children. He picked out the perfect color for all of us.
I'm still processing one of the saddest conversations I have yet to have with Amos. The time he cried and told me he just wished his skin was white like daddy's. My heart literally broke into a million pieces. He's six. He notices he's different and in his heart and mind it doesn't feel right. I pray my words were right. I pray I showered him with love and acceptance. I asked him why he felt this. I allowed him to express his thoughts. I didn't try and make him feel something he wasn't. I didn't flippantly dismiss this feeling. I allowed him to be heard. I also shared with him that we serve a perfect God with a perfect plan and that all along he knew Amos would be just the right way with skin the color he gave him. That God was the one that created him. He molded him in HIS image. He knit him together. He has a huge plan for him and his life. I still pray that my words went to his soul and that God will use them to the best he can, because sometimes I feel as though my words are all jumbled when they exit my mouth!!!
I just finished reading THE HELP and I must say it was one of the best books I've ever read. My summer reading has been saturated with stories of people that are black overcoming huge obstacles in their lives. LITTLE BEE, TINY SUNBIRDS FAR AWAY and now THE HELP have made me think so much about my life, the life of my children (all of them), and how I view the world.
I highly encourage you to read this book as quickly as you can. Go get it now and soak up the story. Meet these characters and fall in love with each one of them. The movie comes out soon and I can't wait for this story to be told to even more people. Our country has been through hell with racial issues and let me tell in case you believe that that hell is behind us, it is not. Ask any person that is black (or any color besides white for that matter) and you will soon find out the hell is not gone. It might be easier to be black in this country, but it is still not as easy as it is to be white.
I pray that when these questions rise that I will be able to adequately portray to my kids the sadness that this brings me. I will use the gospel to show them how sin entered our world and it is not the way that God intended, but he sent his son Jesus to make right and that one day he will come back for his people and he will conquer evil. I will show them people that have stood up in this world and made a difference. For thousands of years people have been persecuted for different things and not just skin color. While people are being persecuted there are also those that are standing with them proclaiming this is not right. I want to be one of those. I want my kids to be one of those. (I'm not just talking about racial issues, I'm talking about all issues here.)
Here are a few of my man favorite quotes form the book ….
I can not wait to see this movie! looks amazing.
This book sounds great and the movie looks wonderful! I have been struggling with this for a few months. I know these issues seep into the adoption process and agencies can have racist tendencies. How in the world do adoptive mom’s deal with that? It just breaks my heart that Amos has had to deal with this already.
Such a beautiful post, Jamie. The way you’re processing as a mom is such a testimony of Jesus’s work in the life of your family.
I love what you said about emphasizing how God made us all different. So, so true—and such an important undercurrent of God’s creation overall. (the beautiful diversity found…humans, flowers, trees, sunsets…the list goes on and on.) It is such a beautiful characteristic of His creation and (in my opinion) such a beautiful thing to highlight with children when we go about the process of teaching him about His world.
I also loved The Help and cannot wait for the movie.
Here’s one of my favorite parts:
“Constantine sat down next to me, at the kitchen table. I heard the cracking of her swollen joints. She pressed her thumb hard in the palm of my hand, somthing we both knew meant Listen.
Listen to me.
‘Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision.’
Constantine was so close, I could see the blackness of her gums.
‘You gone have to ask yourself, Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?’
The movie looks excellent and heartwrenching. I think it is a conversation we all (parents through transracial adoption) think about, one that is hard but healthy to have!
I loved this book so much as well! I grew up in the South so a lot of it resonated with me. Even though this book took place during the Civil Rights Movement, I feel like the mood there is still very much the same. (See my post about race in Louisiana http://bit.ly/es44bW )
My children are mixed race (thus I’m Not the Nanny blog title) and I think about all these things you’ve mentioned. I think it must be harder for you because Amos does not look like you or your husband.
We just have to do our best. Teach our kids to love who they are. We cannot change other people, though we can try. I’m glad that we are in this journey together.
Thank you, Jamie for shedding light on this important issue. I’m so glad you’re open to talk about it and be transparent. Many people still deny the racial issues that remain in this country, including Christians. Appreciate it!
Just watched the trailer. Already crying. I have heard wonderful things about this book, and need to read it. Sooo good. Good word, Jamie. As always. :O)
Beautiful post, Jamie.
I too just finished this book. I cannot believe how things were just a few short years ago and how far they still have to go. I catch myself often judging by someones color or background. We are products of our upbringing. Thanks to God we can change and grow. I am a work in progress. And you are right, it is easier to let prejudice go with kids than with adults. We must all pray that God opens our eyes to our wrong assumptions and pray that He will help us fix them.
Have you heard the Black White Tan song by Nicole C. Mullen? Love that song! Look up the lyrics you will love it too, I think! She said a concert at OpryMills that she wrote it after her daughter asked similar questions about skin color.
Thank you for reminding us to check ourselves and be kind to all God’s children!!!
Beautifully handled with Amos and a beautifully written post. I love reading your blog!
I loved this book. I’m having a hard time believing the film can do the book justice. I know what you mean – I’m wondering what conversations I’ll be having with my kids in the future and what they will face as they grow older.
I haven’t read the book but I so relate to this post. Yesterday T picked up a marker and said he wanted to color his eyes blue like Daddy. I almost cried. Because I know the conversation that comes further down that road. The why question.
I loved your post and I loved this book! I cannot wait to see the movie.
Jamie, another great book about this time period is “The Queen of Palmyra.” I had some problems with “The Help”: I didn’t like that it made a white woman the catalyst for black activism (and then she jets off to NYC while they stay behind and deal with the fallout), I didn’t like that the author admits to having interviewed only one black maid for the book and based most of it on her childhood memories of their maid, and while relationships between black caregivers and the white families they took care of were complicated, I don’t think she made that clear enough (ie, black women who apparently doted on these white children couldn’t be home to raise their own children).
I know you’re a voracious reader so check out “Queen o Palmyra” for what I think is a more nuanced view.