10 Jun Love in Every Color
I want to tell you about Ruby.
When I was little, I lived in a suburb of New York City. Mind you, I lived in the wealthy white area of this suburb. Still, I fondly recall my mother taking me to visit Ruby. She was a lovely black woman. I think she went to our church. I don’t remember a lot about her except that she was large, kind, and lived alone. I liked visiting her. And I don’t think I had any idea that the mothers of my rich little white friends weren’t taking their children to visit single black women in other parts of our city. I am not shaming them for that. It was about 1980. People weren’t “woke” yet. My friends’ mothers probably thought my mother was weird. I now understand that she was what we call progressive today.
When I was almost seven, we moved to the predominantly white area in Pennsylvania where I still live. And yet, somehow, I always had black friends. I always had Asian friends. I had friends of every age and socioeconomic status. Immigrants from Nicaragua and Vietnam lived in our home. Also pregnant women via the Crisis Pregnancy Center, but they happened to be white. When I was a teenager, my family started taking in foster children. Many of them were black. Four of them became my permanent sisters and brother.
Why am I telling you this? Just more white virtue signaling?
I’m sorry if that’s what it sounds like, but no. Rather, I want you to know what my parents’ efforts produced in me.
I’m not naïve enough to think that I have no prejudices. I know we all do.
I know we can’t be colorblind—of course we see color. I’m going to notice that you’re black or Asian or Hispanic or white or some unidentifiable mixture of beautiful hues. But I can confidently tell you that I don’t care what color you are. You may think that’s impossible, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.
I’m certain I have blind spots, but I approach each new person the same way. I pray you’ve never felt hatred from me, whoever you are. If you have, please let me know because I want to make it right if that’s possible.
It breaks my heart when I come face to face with the truth that everyone doesn’t share this view of people of color. I know racism exists. I’ve seen it. My sisters and my friends have experienced it. It’s real. It causes immense pain.
This isn’t a story about how great I am because I don’t care what color you are.
It’s a story about realizing I might not be instilling the same unbiased love in my own children.
When I look back on my formative years, I see that my parents didn’t take the path of least resistance. It would have been nice to hang out at the country club with the other moms rather than to drive downtown to Ruby’s apartment. Choosing diverse schools for us wasn’t exactly the easy route. Neither was opening their home and sharing it with people from other nations. Actually, that was really hard sometimes, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to do it myself.
When I evaluate the way I’m raising my kids, I realize that I’m not taking the same kind of intentional approach in exposing them to diversity. In a way, my parents have made it a little easier. Every family gathering involves a variety of ethnicities.
I want to do better, though.
So I’m praying, asking for opportunities, seeking out ways to show them what it means to see each individual as a person, the image of God, no matter what color. Because I know this fight begins in our homes and in our hearts.
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” Galatians 3:28-29