I Am Beautiful. I Am Strong.
I am rarely compelled to write a long, heartfelt post but here it is: I Am Beautiful. I Am Strong.
Every so often I have the ‘pleasure’ of encountering a troll who is offended by mixed race couples/families. Yes- these people STILL exist. Besides people with ‘Suns out, guns out’ tees, nothing enrages me more than this. Unfortunately, I see it far more than one should. It is people like this that still call my father the ‘N’ word, still scoff at him for marrying a white woman and still call my siblings and I ‘ugly,’ ‘a disgrace,’ ‘a**holes,’ ‘mistakes,’ etc etc- (Especially my sister and I who also married and had children with white men).
It is because of people like this that my father is frightened of going out with my blonde son alone in case someone thinks he has taken him. And these people don’t just hate blacks/whites- these people hate to see any two different races join together to create something diverse and beautiful.
Now I know that I have grown up fairly unscathed by racism in a middle class mostly white neighbourhood. My black friends were mostly at church, my white friends at school and it wasn’t until high school that I was truly aware of the differences between me and my school friends, and me and my church friends. I can’t speak for my siblings but I know that there were times when I felt in limbo. I’m not 100% black so I can’t really relate to their comments about white people but I’m not 100% white so I still get jokes about me stealing their bike…or other such stereotypes. In both instances, it is easier to laugh along…make the jokes myself…appropriate the comments about white suburbia or black subordination than to start a conversation about racial equality. It’s just a joke, right?
On a trip to the southern States in my teens I encountered truly hateful racism for the first time and it hurt so much, the memory still makes me feel sick.
My parents have always worked hard to ensure that we were able to celebrate both of their cultures and made sure we were given every opportunity possible. They told us that mixed kids were the most beautiful in the world because we were made from different cultures, colours and most importantly, made from so much love. They told us that our differences were what made us unique and special and that they should be celebrated and not hidden. They told us that we could fall in love with anyone from anywhere, so long as they treated us right and made us happy. They taught us that love, respect and kindness were the most important things in this world and we deserved to be treated that way as well.
Both my parents are immigrants to Canada and they are without a doubt, the bravest, strongest, most caring people I have ever met. They have dedicated their lives to showing everyone kindness no matter their situation, giving and giving, often to their own detriment and their kindness not always reciprocated. They have opened their home and their hearts on so many occasions that growing up, we got used to seeing new faces at our dinner table. Whether they were white, black or rainbow coloured, whether they stayed for 5 minutes or 5 years, my parents always made people feel welcome and accepted. If there was anywhere you could (can) go to feel like part of a family, it was (is) my parents’ house.
To say that the names I have been called don’t hurt my feelings would be a lie. Sometimes it makes me feel really low…but also guilty. I wonder if I am ‘letting a side down’ at times but I don’t how to even the scales, how to make it right. Should I be there at the Black Lives Matter protests? Should I be spending more time in Jamaica? Should I be spending more time in England? Should I be teaching my son more about what it means to be black? What exactly does it mean to be either? I still don’t know what the answer is. I battle with this constantly.
At the risk of sounding painfully altruistic and ignorant, here is what I DO know:
I do know is that despite seemingly endless conflict, the world is full of love.
I do know that people of different races, cultures and religions coming together is a beautiful thing and I will celebrate this wholeheartedly.
I do know that one should treat their fellow man with dignity, kindness and respect.
I do know that I am special; I am beautiful and I am strong; loveable and I am capable – so are you.
I do know that if the world were full of more people like my white mother and my black father, it would be a much happier place.