I remember being in high school and reading the book, “The Color of Water” by James McBride.
McBide opens up about his childhood, adulthood, and how his entire life being of mixed races made him feel different from the rest of the world.
He was treated as an outcast by both whites and blacks. He was excluded, looked down upon, and constantly insecure.
At the time, it was a book that I felt was honest, well written and interesting. I never realized how genuinely I would someday understand it.
Several months ago my four year old son confessed something to me:
“Mommy, I prayed for God to change me to be white like Hunter (his cousin).”
He was excited. He had been taught that God answers prayers, and since he was only four we had not quite gotten to the part that God doesn’t work like a vending machine.
I was shocked. He isn’t even in preschool yet, where is this coming from?
Am I doing something wrong?
I gently explained that every little boy or girl is a little bit of their mommy and a little bit of their daddy; because his mommy and daddy are black and white, he is a beautiful shade of brown, just like milk chocolate. I told him that God doesn’t change people’s skin color, because he makes everyone perfect just the way they are.
He began to sob.
Tears streaming down his cheeks his dark brown eyes began to squint angrily.
“Then I don’t like God anymore.”
I was speechless.
How was it possible for my son, at such a young age, to already be experiencing so much insecurity?
To be angry with God because he didn’t get what he wanted?
Today my three year old Jordan told me “Mommy, when I grow up I want my name to be Melvin, and to be chocolate like my daddy.”
I laughed, it warmed my heart how my little ones admire and love their daddy so much.
“No Jordan, you can’t be chocolate like daddy!” Anthony snapped.
Then he turned to me, “mommy, I don’t like that we are a little bit of you and daddy. I don’t look like anyone.”
I wondered if this discontentment would haunt him for the rest of his life.
If even though he hears a dozen times a day how cute and sweet and gorgeous he is,
How even though Mel and I are constantly doing all we can to provide a loving and secure home, maybe it isn’t enough.
I almost feel guilty, like is my fault.
No parent wants their child to hurt, no mother desires for her little boy to feel pain.
I feel almost like I have failed them.
I always knew that being a mixed race couple, we would face adversity.
People have their ideals, people were raised a certain way, whatever their excuse, sometimes people just plain stink.
I guess I always thought, if Mel and I loved our kids and made them feel accepted that the rest of the world and their backwards mindsets wouldn’t matter.
I am starting to see how naive I was.
In theory, that sounds great, but in reality, other people and their attitudes have an astronomical effect on kids.
Why is it that people fear what is different?
Why do we desire so deeply to belong, to blend, to be accepted.
I’m feeling a little inadequate.
I know I can’t protect him forever, but boy I sure wish it were that easy.