Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Those Brown-Skinned Boys

The other day I read an article that really got me to thinking.  The writer of the article said that statistically, more black men marry white women than white men marry black women.  I know that we are raising Hadassah in a very white culture even though she is obviously not white.  We live in a white neighborhood and go to a church that is full of mostly white people.  I have wondered if Hadassah will marry someone of her own race or if she will be so saturated in the culture of our race that she will consider herself more white than black?  After reading the article, I realized that if she sees herself as white inside, then she might have a harder time finding someone to marry.

Of course, God has all of that under control, but I can't help thinking about it.  And I began to pray.  On Friday night, I prayed that God would send us black friends.  We are still pretty new to Dallas and like I said, we are surrounded by lots of people who look just like us.

The very next Sunday we went to church and guess what?  A sweet African American family walked in with two daughters, one who is only 9 days younger than Hadassah.  Seriously?  Yes.  Hadassah went straight up to her new little friend, gave her a hug, grabbed her hand, and dragged her all the way over to the snack table.  The little girl was terrified and a bit overwhelmed by such a warm greeting. Hadassah knows no boundaries.

Then, that very afternoon, three African American boys from some apartments down the street showed up at our front door.  They had seen our boys out jumping on the trampoline the day before and stopped by to see if maybe they could jump, too.  At first I was hesitant because I had no idea who they were.  But then I gave in and sent them out to the backyard.  As they were walking around through the gate, I started giggling to myself.  God sent them.  And guess what?  They have been back every day since.  And they've brought friends. :)  Our boys love to play with them and have learned some great new games since meeting them.

So this is kind of two stories in one (or maybe 4 stories in one...).  God sent us some friends and I am so, so thankful.  But it gets tricky.  You see, we live in a white neighborhood.  Honestly, before we adopted Hadassah, I would have told you that racism was dead (for the most part).  I mean, I'm not racist.  My family and friends aren't racist.  Right?

As the boys were jumping on the trampoline that first day, I was doing dishes in the kitchen.  We can see into our neighbor's kitchen from our kitchen window and I happened to glance up and see our neighbor tiptoeing and looking out her window at our backyard.  I knew immediately what she was thinking.  I went about my business and came back to the sink a few minutes later and she was still in the same place, watching the boys.  Not long after that, there was a knock at our front door.  It was that same neighbor's daughter.  She is about Olivia's age and I thought that she had come over to play with Olivia.  But the first thing that came out of her mouth was, "There are some brown-skinned boys jumping on your trampoline!"  I assured her that it was okay and that they were our friends.  Her parents later told Josiah that they really didn't want those boys at our house because "They might decide to jump over our fence and play in our backyard when we aren't home."

I was shocked.  And I judged.  But guess what else happened?  While our new friends were in our backyard, my own boys were with Jay, taking a guy to the airport.  So when they came home, I told them some new friends were out back and that they could go and play.  Both boys went out, but it wasn't long before Josiah came back in the house.  He asked if he could go and play with a different neighbor instead and looked on the verge of tears.  I asked him what was wrong and then it all came out.  He was afraid.  He told me that he is afraid of people with dark skin.  All the time he was telling me this, his Ethiopian sister was crawling all over our laps.  Where did I go wrong?  I was so sad that he was afraid, but I'm so thankful that God gave me that opportunity to talk to him.  I got to explain to him that God created those boys and loves them just the same as all of our family.  I told him how polite the boys were when they asked if they could play and how they were obeying every rule I gave them.  I asked Josiah to give it one more try.

Josiah walked timidly back outside and quickly realized that the three new boys were pretty fun and actually liked him.  He told me later that the boys (who are all 12) asked his age and when he said that he was about to turn 8, they didn't even care.  "They still played with me!"

When the friends showed up today, our boys ran out to greet them.  The friends knew that Isaac's birthday was today and asked him if that was so.  Isaac said yes, and the boys quickly said that maybe they should come back another time because they didn't want to disrupt his birthday.  Isaac and Josiah assured them that they would love to hang out, and the boys played together for a couple of hours.

Fear.  Holy cow.  Fear keeps us from so many wonderful experiences.  And, by the way, I don't think that my neighbors are racist.  I think that they are afraid.  Just like my own son was afraid.  Just like I have been afraid before.  It's Satan's oldest trick.  And I will tell you what, I have been a huge participant in his stupid game.  Maybe not fear of people from other cultures or walks of life, but fear has definitely ruled over me in other ways.  I've missed out on so much because of fear.  

I prayed the prayer for God to send us black friends, and he did less than 48 hours later.  Do you think that maybe this is something he desires?  Do you think that God just might want all of his children...red, brown, yellow, black and white...to love each other?  Do you think that the fear that has entangled us makes him so very sad?  And that he was eager to answer my prayer?  And probably giggled with me when those boys walked through my gate?

I'm not sure who Hadassah will marry, but I am sure that God has all of that figured out.  My desire is that she will grow up knowing that she is loved by God, loved by us, and beautiful inside and out.  And that she won't be afraid of the unknown but will embrace the life God gives her.

By the way, Josiah informed us quite awhile back that he wants to marry an Ethiopian girl and have seven children.  I will be one happy grandma.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Janis! Profound! Awesome young Mom, Awesome God!

  2. Love this post! So glad you shared. :)

  3. Love this post! So glad you shared. :)

  4. Love this post! So glad you shared. :)

  5. This is POWERFUL! Seriously beautifully written and I'm just in awe. You are an amazing mom and I'm so happy that you let God teach you and your boys. WOW, now this has me thinking about my kids and what they think and know! Thank you for the inspiration.

    It does remind me, when I was pregnant with Joshua, David asked if Joshua could be a chocolate baby. I didn't understand it at first, but then he said, I like chocolate people and we don't have very many chocolate people here (in Dalhart) and we could have a chocolate baby. Kind of interesting that our then 3 year old knew that there isn't many "chocolate" people in our town.

  6. It's amazing the lessons we learn isn't it? :)

  7. Thanks for posting this. Our social worker asked us very frankly if we had any close friends that were black. And though it wasn't something we'd ever really thought about, we couldn't say yes. So I've been praying the same prayer. We don't have an Ethiopian daughter yet OR a trampoline, but this gives me confidence to know that God will take care of our daughter's heart and mind in this way. You are such an encouragement!

  8. I've often wondered some of the same things about Deon. He's bi-racial but most of his relationships are with white people. Your prayers and your innocence in this matter are beautiful...thanks for sharing!