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What they see

What being married to a black man has taught me.

In the eyes of strangers:

              

In the hearts of those who know him: 

He is a warrior
 – Chris, Jimmie’s father-in-law

He is joyful and a blessing
– Whit, a close friend

He is humble
– Billy, Uncle

He is a big, lovable teddy bear. 
– Sarah, Aunt

He is faithful
– Jackson, cousin

He is a cool guy
– Brady, little cousin

He is funny
– Carter, little cousin

He is compassionate
– Ashlyn, member of the youth at our church

He is brave and strong and a foodie
– Antonia, member of the youth at our church

Women clutch their purses when he walks by.

He feels the heaviness of many eyes planted upon him everywhere he goes.

He and I were once at a wedding and the father of the bride came up to him and said, “My buddy locked his keys in his car, can you come pop the lock and get them out?” Followed by a loud burst of laughter.

At a restaurant in my hometown, a guy that had met him on one other occasion said, “Hey buddy! They still haven’t kicked you out of this country yet?” Followed by a slap on the arm as if he was supposed to think it was funny.

He feels like he has no choice but to say, “It’s okay.”

Parents grip the hands of their children a little bit tighter when he is around.

People look at him as if he is an ex-convict, not knowing he is a youth pastor.

He had to earn the respect of some of my family and friends because he isn’t what they wanted for me.

His heart gets tight when we are near a police officer.

He lives to prove that he isn’t the monster that the world deems him to be.

Cruel generalizations
When I saw the movie Detroit, I left the theatre infuriated. The film in general was enough to anger me, but the familiarity between those 1960s events and today is what really made me upset.

I’m not afraid to admit that before I was married to a black man, I was completely oblivious to the existence of racism today. I saw the news, I saw African Americans shot in the street for “resisting arrest” and I still felt numb in my own safe world.

Now, I worry when he doesn’t answer the phone.

While he was a passenger in my car, we were pulled over one night for absolutely no reason in our tiny, 90-percent white town. As if that wasn’t bad enough, three cops pulled up behind us as if we were some huge threat to society.

I feel the tension when we walk into an all-white room.

One of my teachers told me that my husband and I were putting a heavy burden on the shoulders of our future biracial children because, “They will suffer. They won’t know where to fit in and that’s not fair to do to a child.”

On multiple occasions, I have been called a “ni***r lover.”

While sitting in my car talking when we first met, someone called the police on us because we were engaging in “suspicious behavior.”

Being married to a black man has taught me that we still very much live in a racist society.

I now see what the fight is about. I now understand the motive behind the hearts of those discriminated against. If I didn’t love someone who goes through it daily, I would still be in absolute denial saying, “Well, our country has made a lot of progress. That’s worth something!”

That is not enough anymore.

God designed diversity

God created all people in his image. Therefore, he is black, white, tall, skinny, yellow, brown and anything above, below or in between. He is everything and we own an inherent goodness because of that.

Different skin colour wasn’t a mistake. God loves diversity. Why else would he create men and women? Why else would he create different body types and skin colours and people with different talents and interests? We “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). 

Jimmie, my husband, said, “The people around here haven’t been around black guys from Detroit like me. They are raised in racist homes, so when they meet me, they start thinking ‘hmmm, he’s not like the black people I’ve been hearing about.’ After that, their generalizations disappear, because without saying a word, I have changed their minds.”

As frustrating as it is, Jimmie is right. We live in a broken world and Satan uses things like race as a divisive tool. So, for now, we just have to be examples. Jimmie has to continue living his stressful life and I have to continue promoting how incredible he is in hopes to contradict the image the world has created of the black man.

We have spent the last year in a church with mostly white people and I know that, like all other God-ordained things, our placement was no mistake. We have to be willing to go to 90-percent Caucasian towns and be different. Most importantly, though, we have to love those who hate us (cf. Matt. 5:43-48). It’s really easy to love those that love you. It’s a lot harder to love people who persecute you and discriminate against you and judge you – but that’s what we’re called to do. Change comes where kindness resides.

Let go of the jokes that have never been funny and the judgements that are far from correct. Let go of your purse, and your child’s hand.

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Rev. 7:9).

Oh, how I long for this day.

Until then, I will love my sweet black husband, because this world does not.  

  • Kayah is a blogger, beginning speaker, lover of Jesus, and a grateful recipient of a grace undeserved.

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