I’ve dealt with racism my entire life, but not how so many others have. My father is half black, my mother is white, and my brother and I are dark and light. Let me makes sense of it… My brother is many shades darker than I am, though I possess the features of our father and he has the features of our mother. When I say I have dealt with racism for as long as I can remember, I mean I have watched my father and mother deal with mistreatment on too many occasions to count. Regardless of their treatment, my parents have never spoken badly about their abusers, they have always shown tolerance and understanding. I used to get so angry I would cry, begging them to do something about it, and they would always respond with gentleness and grace. They would hold me and tell me some people just see things differently and that I shouldn’t hate them for it, they just simply do not understand.
When my father and all his siblings were young, they endured the discrimination of their peers, the parents of their peers and the gawking looks from random people on the street as their mixed family of nine walked together. Their father, my grandfather, was black and their mother white… mind you this is a few decades ago when it was more than terrifying to be an interracial family. They knew little acceptance. Their dark, yet lighter skin made them outcasts, their kinky hair, different. They were never wealthy and spoke differently than their fellow students or playground acquaintances. They stood out.
When my father and mother met, they fell in love almost instantly. They married a short three years later, had my brother and me, and enjoyed the happiness they shared. With that being said, from the moment they started dating they faced intolerance and suffered hate filled words spit in their direction. Yet still, they withstood their plights with tolerance and grace.
My brother and I were raised to respect and appreciate the differences of all those we encounter, regardless of their race. Our parents instilled within us the grace and tolerance they had already practiced their entire lives. We are, at times, an exception to the norm, as we have both experienced environments of intolerance, and it is sad.
Our world is made up of color. Vibrant, beautiful colors. We see in color so that our world can be bright and exquisite, rather than dull and uninviting. No one person has the same coloring as the next, which only adds to the vibrancy of difference and the quality of uniqueness, which can never be dulled. We are all someone as well as no one. Different in every way, yet all of us the same. Why then is there still so much intolerance and misguided perception? How is it we are still maintaining a society where racism is on every corner of every city?
My little boy has no idea what racism is… though his father is Native American, our son simply looks tan. He is sweet and loving, heartfelt and lovely, driven and innocent, and I worry about the day he will face racism; whether it be directed toward him or another person. I worry how he will handle it. I worry how it will change him, or jade him. I worry about how he will adapt to it given I cannot keep him from it forever. He has the idea that all of us are the same in so many ways and that we all shine brightly in our own light. He is perfect in this belief, because it is a wonderful way to believe in our world. His father and I teach him tolerance of others views, and we show him every day that the grace to plow through the worlds blockades is worth more than the words of hate another may bear. It is all we can do.
So, to the brown, olive, black, red, white, tan… beautiful people out there, thank you for standing out. Thank you for shining brightly within your skin. Thank you for our vibrant world. Life would not be nearly as beautiful without all of our differences.