We’re a multi-racial family of 10. The events of these past few weeks have shaken us to the core. They’ve prompted fear in our children and left us broken and on edge as their parents. This is what #BlackLivesMatter means to me…
This picture was taken on a trip to Disney World in 2005. Our daughter was just about to turn 3. The only thing she loved more than Cinderella’s castle was her daddy. He had just raced through the streets of the theme park toward the castle with his little girls clasped in each arm. “The princesses are arriving!” He shouted. They giggled with glee and I trailed behind with our son in the stroller. I rolled my eyes at the absurdity of it but I couldn’t stop laughing. His happiness was in his daughters’ delight. He would bring them the world to make them smile. His joy poured from him and reflected in their faces.
Breathless, I finally caught up and began to unbuckle our son and raise him to my shoulders. I looked up to see our daughter grab my husband’s face. Princesses paraded all around but she had stopped to look into the eyes of her hero. My Nikon dangled from my wrist and I picked it up just in time to snap the picture.
In 2002 it had occurred to me that adopting a brown-skinned child as a peach-skinned family would come with challenges. I had felt honored to be chosen by my daughter’s birth mother. There were over 50 waiting families when we put in our application and she chose us. She saw something in me that went beyond the color of my skin. I was there when my daughter was born. The sight of her took my breath away.
I see her color.
I see her race.
I see her birth mom mirrored in her smile. I see the way her skin shimmers like melted chocolate in the bright sun. I have the honor of looking into her eyes as she speaks. Eyes so dark they remind me of midnight. Her hair curls into tiny, perfectly formed tendrils, I wrap them around my finger as I comb and pull them into a thousand braids. When I think of being the mother of someone so beautiful my chest fills so full I think it will burst.
I see her heart too.
She feels the emotions of others deeply. She is sensitive and kind. She is strong-willed and fierce. She is wickedly smart but often hesitant to let the world know. She never puts her laundry away but always apologizes when I get angry. She is a gifted writer. Words float from her brain to her pen with ease. She sings with a voice like an angel. She is a friend. She is a daughter. She is my daughter.
She is valuable.
She is treasured.
She is Black.
Her life matters.
I thought the world knew that. I thought the world would see my daughter the way I see her. I trusted that I lived in a time of reconciliation. I believed that I lived in a time of healing. I envisioned that I lived in a place of equality. I don’t. My friends don’t. My neighbors don’t. My sons and daughters don’t.
We live in a time of tension. We live in a time of murder. We live in a time of racial inequality. We live in a time of fear and uncertainty. Our children don’t see their reality reflected on television. They do not see their faces in the storybooks they read. The media does not share stories that show their value. Unless something changes, my children won’t have the same opportunities as those around them. They won’t have the same expectation of education or salary or inclusion or even life. The realization hurts so bad I can’t breathe.
I was blind. I don’t know if I want to see. My eyes are being pried open and the bright light of clarity rushes in. I wince from the pain and wonder…did the man Jesus healed feel the same way? His story sounds like a dream but the details are a little uncomfortable.
Mark 8:22-25 (NIV):
“Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’ Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
It was messy. Jesus’ spit, dirty hands, and a pair of blind eyeballs! At first the man could only see a little. Jesus touched him again and his sight was restored. I wonder if for a moment he panicked. I wonder if having all of his previous understandings challenged, did he wish to go back to the darkness for just a moment? I do. I wish for a moment to see my daughter as I once saw her. I wish for her to see me one more time without the knowledge of the racially charged fear that lies between her race and mine. I’m also thankful for the pain. I’m thankful for the mess. I’m thankful because, although the discomfort is sharp, it soon brings clarity. My vision is stronger now. I see the hurt and I feel the tension. I no longer wish to go back. I no longer wish to live blind. I wish only to move forward with clearer sight to see. Not only the hurt, but also the hope!
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