The Common Good

Learning to Love White Men: Between Bigoted Brothers and Holy Husbands

At eight months pregnant, I had a dream my new baby boy was born. He came out with pale white skin, blue eyes, and long, pin-straight red hair. He didn't look like he belonged to me at all. As a light-skinned, biracial black woman with an Italian mother, an African-American father, and a white husband, the notion that my son could look white isn't too far off from reality.

In the dream when I looked at him I felt sad and disappointed at his apparent whiteness. In fact, the sadness lingering in my gut was so intense it woke me up. It felt awful to again address the racism I still struggled with as I considered the implications of giving birth to two sons who may be perceived as white men. I felt awful. Even in my dreams, I'm a racist.

It was painful to look into the face of my sin and admit that here is a deep racism that exists so far under the surface it's been quite difficult to unearth.

The racism I have struggled with was the fear of recklessness in white men. The type of recklessness that can decide to go to one country pick up a group of people, enslave, degrade, hunt and herd them for several hundred years.

Instead of a natural extension of trust, there is fear. My struggle with this issue goes far back to my childhood days when my very own white brother began calling me a "stupid nigger" when I was six years old. "Oh, yeah, you're a power hungry honkey," I would retort back. Even now, my brother is still the epitome of reckless and blatantly unapologetic racist white boy behavior that I have come to loathe.

One would assume that for all of my brother's ills it would be balanced out by my white husband, who is the exact opposite. My husband Dave is the epitome of kind, thoughtful wonderfulness who embraces blacks, diversity, and humans in general with compassion and love. He may be the best and most upright person I've ever met in all humanity.

Here's the trouble: that's not how it works. God calls me to love my enemies -- not let one good man balance out the evils of my enemies whom God has called me to love. God has not asked me to perceive my white husband as one of the good ones amongst a sea of evil white men. God asks me -- and therefore all of us as believers -- to love, embrace, and even go out of our way for our sworn enemy.

Certainly then, God wants me to be at peace with my sons looking like white men. My responsibility to these two precious barely biracial boys of mine is to teach them how to love themselves in the exact way God created them to look, whether that brings them privilege or pain. My responsibility is to teach them to love their black and white heritage. My responsibility is to teach them to deal honestly and obediently with the racism that may one day exist in their hearts.

Even if it's in their dreams.

portrait-grace-biskieGrace Biskie originally posted this blog entry at the Salter McNeil & Associates blog. It appears here courtesy of a partnership with SMA.

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