Erasing History

Comments on Charlottesville and beyond…

 

The past few days have brought, yet again, disturbing images of hatred, violence, destruction and death as our country appears to fall even more divided along racial lines.  There is a culture of rage fueling the dark souls who are all too willing to unleash the chaos within on any fellow human being different from themselves.

We can look at these “groups” and dissect their “missions” under a microscope, but it seems as if racism is this magnetic particle which draws the extremists together and incites violence.  Extremists (anyone who advocates extreme views or actions) are excellent recruiters…disenfranchised?  We’ve got the answer, belong to us.  We will nurture your hate.  We will feed your frenzy.  We will activate your aggression.  We will help you hate.

Last night, I watched a video of a confederate statue being torn down by a mob.  It brought to mind the day I watched the statue of Saddam Hussein toppled.  Perhaps, at that moment, there was elation in the victory, but it doesn’t change a thing.  The dead are still dead.  The war rages on.

Slavery still happened.

Racism still exists.

Erasing history is an exercise in ignorance.

I feel as though I need to give some reference to the fact that I am the matriarch of a transracial family.  Our experiences would require another post or two but please know, I write from a place of knowing.  Initially, I would have been on the burn-it-all side of the argument, but is that just me wanting to be a “good” white woman?  Wanting to stomp out racism is a good thing, I just don’t believe this will help.

I would love to eradicate what happened, but I can’t.  I can’t give my children the richness of their heritage without teaching them what their ancestors faced in this country.   I also can not understand my black brothers and sisters without visiting not only history, but the present,  through their experiences. We need to ask ourselves:

  • Does removing the Confederate flag or statues make a difference?
  • Does it make us a less-racist society or does it whitewash our evils?
  • Is it an act of political correctness or true repentance?
  • Does removing the past protect our future?
  • Does it change the heart of a man?

The sad truth is, nothing about banning the Confederate flag or tearing down statues makes the United States of America any more united.

Erasing history is an exercise in futility.

As a heartbroken and burdened Christ-follower, I’m instructed to bring it all into the light of the gospel.  Jesus.  Our perfect and innocent God, executed on a symbol of shame.  A cross where criminals met their end.  A cross designed to prolong suffering and death.  And yet, we hold on to that symbol of shame over 2,000 years later.  Why?  Because HIS story is our story.

So it is with confederate symbols.  For my daughter, that history is her story.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.

If you would have told the disciples that future Christ-followers would be hanging crosses on their necks and walls, tattooing them on their bodies and placing them on their alters, they would have never believed it.  Yet, here we are.

Erasing history in an exercise in dishonor

What are we to do?

Whether you live in Charlottesville or a place far from it, you are responsible.  Responsible for starting hard conversations.  Responsible for building bridges with those different from you.  Responsible for speaking out whenever you hear or see injustice.  Responsible for educating yourself.  Responsible for uncovering personal biases. Responsible for tearing down our own symbols of racism.

In 100 years:

  • What symbols will we have erected or made holy that future generations will be at war over?
  • What are we elevating now that will serve to divide or disgrace those who come behind?
  • Which of our words will reverberate in the minds of our children?

A love-laced legacy is lasting.

 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up :1-3 ESV

No Man’s Land

The World of White Parents with Black Children

At that moment, when nothing I’ve done or will do matters more than the fact I’m White, I stand completely unable to defend that which they can’t see beyond, my color and my privilege.

Those were my words  after a painful encounter where as the only white in a group of black women, I was given a firm admonition (I’m being tactful) regarding my perceived inability to understand my Black child.   A well-meaning Black sister told my daughter she wished she could take her in, as if MY child I’ve had since infancy needed to be taken from my whiteness.  As I recalled the previous day’s conversation and the raw emotions it produced,  the tears were as willing and hot as they had been the day before.

I am white.  I have children who share my skin color, and I have children who do not. Some were born of my womb, some of my heart.  If you were to line us up, we create a landscape  from the palest of creams to the richest of browns.  Eyes from bright sky blue to a dark chocolate so bottomless you can lose yourself.

A black woman recently asked me why we decided to adopt Black kids.  My answer is 21 years old now…because I didn’t specify my first babies outward appearances  and I’m not placing an order this time either.  We simply wanted to  grow our family by His divine intent and by His good will.

A white woman has poured praises over me for taking in children who were not our own and “giving them a good life”.  On the contrary, they were blessings we received not the other way around.  From the moment we first laid eyes on each of them, they were entirely ours for always and in all ways.


There is so much beauty in our story, so much of the Master’s redemptive plan for each and every human is revealed through adoption.  The ability to sit back and watch God  work out a vast array of details and seemingly insurmountable circumstances to place a specific child into a specific family is just one way He has of fulfilling His plan and purpose in our lives.  The ability of a man and woman to accept and fully embrace a child not conceived by them as their own is the same as God accepting and fully embracing us as His own despite our birth into sin.  I believe every Christ-follower has the capacity to love another in this way through the power of the Holy  Spirit living within us.  What would seem unnatural to the world is innate to believers; a no-brainer, so to speak.

Beautiful and ordained, yes…simple, no.  And so, I drift between the world I know of White privilege and the world my children know.  I’ll call their world Skin First.  I have the privilege of being known for many things before my descriptive race while they most often, are known first by the color of their skin.  What’s worse is when that is all they are known by.  I live in a zone between a White world unwilling to admit there is such a thing as privilege and a Black world unwilling to see their own racial prejudices.  I row my little boat between these two land masses on a sea of angst while bitter voices scream at each other from the shores.  I want my children to be a part of both worlds but neither land has a friendly port for our interracial crew.  We sail on, to No Man’s Land.

Back to my experience as the minority.  I sobbed on the way home.  My daughter, upon seeing and hearing how the encounter had made me feel,  grieved with me.  She was able to tell me that hearing me share how vulnerable I felt solely by the color of my skin made her think I was truly understanding her struggles as a black child in a white community and school for the first time. Over and over she assured me, I am HER mom, the only one she knows, the only one she wants.

This isn’t the first such encounter and it won’t be the last, so what’s the goal in this writing?   I guess I hope to reach my sisters and brothers from both races with this message:

  • Adopted children are God’s children first.  He defines them, not their race. Only when we teach them the value of who they are in Christ, will they be able to withstand the icy winds of racial divides.
  • Adoption happens once.  Do we call ourselves children of God or adopted children of God?  I AM a child of God, its a done deal.  Let us live that way.  We are aware our color differences point out that an adoption took place but we really like to forgo the intrusive questions.
  • Transracial families are both Black and White.  Do not make them choose.
  • Skin color does not a mother (or father) make.  We can all agree Southern White children who were raised by Black “help” were well, well loved and cared for.  Can we be tolerant when that scenario is flipped in our present times?
  • Society is bound by the chains of our History.  Racism as well as reverse racism is alive and well and both our our cultures feed it.  This is a burden each race owns and must first recognize; second, reveal; and third, revolt against.
  • Children do need healthy relationships with people of their own race, but those relationships must always honor the parents’ place in that child’s life.  If you are mentoring, never assume the white momma doesn’t get it.  She may not have personally lived it, but it is her beloved child….believe me, she gets it.
  • I find certain cultural trends in both races unhealthy and denigrating.  Rejecting some form of cultural expression from the Black culture does not equate with me rejecting a Black brother or sister.  Unwrap it.
  • There is a disproportionate number of Black foster and adoptive homes compared to White homes.  Step it up Black friends!
  • White friends, you ARE privileged.  Until you have spent quality time with a Black man or woman and listened to their experiences, do not even pretend to think you can speak to this.
  • We have to lay the fear down.  It is my belief that we have become so fearful of each other, we build fences instead of bridges.  Emotionally, physically, socially, etc.
  • I touched on it earlier but want to reiterate.  As White parents we oppose our Black children being viewed as mission projects or attention-getting tokens.  This devalues them as it suggests they were obtained for our psychological gain vs. them being truly desired by parents who were creating a family.

It is time for the church to take the lead on this.  These relationships need to be born and nurtured within the safety of a community of believers.  This is a call-out.  What can you do in your corner of the world?   Have a discussion with your church leaders about creating a safe place for Transracial families to connect with fellow believers of other races who would be willing to embrace them as a family.  Mentoring relationships will naturally spring from this.  If you’ve been part of such a community, please share with the rest of us what has made your experience successful!

This Sunday is Sanctity of Life Sunday.  A date  which is poignantly special since it would have been so “convenient” for three birth mothers to end our children’s lives.  I would like to end by honoring the bravery and sacrifice of these women and the countless others like them.  For them, I am so grateful.