Ok – As a white guy I’ve never been asked to leave a restaurant, never been afraid of the police, never wondered if there wasn’t ‘another’ reason I didn’t get the job, never worried about many things… And yes, bad stuff has happened to me, acknowledging that other people have worse experiences doesn’t take anything away, it adds to my life, my perspective and shared ministry.
More than that it makes me a better dad to my son who has already had the experience of kids at school telling him they can’t have him over to their house because their parent(s) don’t like people who aren’t white & others say they can’t be friends because he “isn’t really Asian.” I’ve had people make assumptions that range from child trafficking (me ‘buying’ him) to me ‘dating outside my race.’ They assume they to know our story before they ask.
It’s only a small taste of the bitter cake others encounter, but it opened my eyes to try to understand others better, sometimes I find myself getting angry on his behalf, or my own when people go to great lengths to tell me how selfish & wrong it was for L & I to adopt him, or how he’ll never have a chance in life because he is “genetically predisposed” to “be with his own people, not you.”
Who are his people? Anyone with a love of football, waterparks, go karts & fortnite (this week). People who mainly look for nice in others, who want to play & not be mad all the time. People who think math is hard, Dora the explorer teaches kids to wander off unsupervised – with a monkey and the common denominator of humanity is a dislike of mean people.
He handles this stuff better than I do…
Because he’s already had to and because he probably will be dealing with it in one way or another, directly, for longer than me.
If you want to know something; know this.
He’s a kid I happily gave my last name to. He is my son.
So to the kids that told him he was going to be sent back to Viet Nam after our current president was elected, to the adults that whisper and the one idiot that asked if I had a thing for young Asian boys while we stood in line at a movie theater…
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to practice what I preach. For letting my son learn that anger and bitterness are a chosen lifestyle, not a genetic predisposition. That willful ignorance is ugly, and that the work of forgiveness and reconciliation is still vital.
And to my non-white male friends, my GLBTQ family and friends and to all the white guys who not only woke, but got up, got dressed & went to work… thank you. Thank you for showing me that just because I was born close to the mountain-top, it doesn’t mean I can’t welcome others up, walk together to see into the promised land, and see it’s glory more clearly than if I went there alone apart from my WASPish cis-straight friends.
Some days I miss the cacoon of ignorance that surrounded me. It was easier to stand on third when I thought I’d hit a triple. But now, I look into others eyes and realize, not only can’t they get a turn at bat, but they can’t get into the game because someone wants to build a wall around the stadium. Perhaps learning that 30% of MLB players weren’t born in the “right” country, and many are from south of Texas was just too much.
Or maybe it’s the last gasp of a worn-out ignorance, and my son will grow up in a place where what separates us is honored, but what unites us is celebrated. Where you can be a foreign-born transgender homosexual and the most remarkable trait people mention is your ability to skid-slide a prius into a curbside parking spot.
But what do I know. I’m crazy. I think all this is nonsense and we should focus on the widows and orphans, the hungry & the poor. But of course that’s easy for a white guy to say. At least it used to be. But it isn’t anymore.
I’m reading Desmond Tutu’s “No Future Without Forgiveness” about the necessity of the oppressed to forgive the oppressors in order for lives to flourish. In it he says something like “I think, therefore I am” is wrong. We are too connected to each other for us to be so isolated. We are connected, and to diminish any human is to diminish ourselves.
With that ‘We love, therefore we are’ we could change the world…
Can you give it a try?
For your children?
For a kid that just wants to play ball?