My children are adopted. My son is not the same color as me. His birthparents are not the same color as each other. My son is a unique color of blended love.
That fact did not matter to me, my husband, our parents and most of our combined families and friends.
The potential color of his future skin didn’t matter. Not to me.
The color of his future skin, whether dark or light or any color in-between, didn’t impact how much I love his little soul. How grateful I am his birthparents wanted a better life for him than what they could provide young, newly dating and still in college.
I don’t care at all what color my son is. Not even a little bit.
And, it bothers me more than I can articulate when you do. Or when you hate people who look like him, or someone who looks nothing like him just because the person looks nothing like you. Sorting humanity by the colors of skin, size of waists, shape of eyes or size of bank account.
I have watched my son grow up in our family, with his sister, at his school, with his friends. The labeling doesn’t happen with children. The kids are all different variations of colors. Scotty calls himself brown because that is the color he sees in the mirror. The only reason why.
Scotty asked me one day why I was “clear” and Jessie was “peach”. To him and his friends color is a spectrum of beauty, not a label for equation of value.
Another day as he has become engaged with more adults, with competitive sports, as we traveled more, Scotty looked at me and asked, “Mommy, when will people start treating me differently and be mean to me because I am brown?”
I had to search deeply within myself for my reaction not to show on my face. I answered, “Sweetie, I hope that day never comes when people treat you differently because you’re brown. No one has to do that. You will always be Scotty. Everyone should treat you exactly the same as they do now, and as they do Jessie, Mommy or Daddy or anyone. Why do you say that?”
Scotty said, “Because I see it. Sometimes it happens until they see you that you’re my Mommy or when you’re not looking. I see it happen to my friends at gym when we are at a meet. When the man at Disney World wouldn’t let me play with the l Star Wars legos because I was brown and he told me I wouldn’t have any money. Then when you heard him and told him you were my Mom. Man, you got super mad at him for that. Remember, you talked to his boss for all the other little kids that happens to when he is in the Lego area. When does that mean stuff start happening more to me? “
“When do I get old enough that people think it’s ok to be mean to me?”
He was 7.
I told him he would never get that old.
There is no age that it is ok for anyone to be mean to him or anyone else. I told Scotty the truth that the problem was with the grown ups that looked at him that way without giving him a chance to show them how awesome, thoughtful, funny, kind and sweet he is. I told him there is never any age it is ever ok to be mean. To anyone.
Shortly after, a friend from the Christian high school I graduated from posted a meme on Facebook celebrating the KKK and someone burning a cross in a front yard. It was meant to be funny. The KKK was not funny in the 60’s and had not gained any comedic value by 2010. I blocked the person. I sent him an inbox, told him I did and explained why with kindness and respect. Not in anger. In support of kids that look like Scotty and anyone else who looks different. In support of each of us not exactly the same as each other. Unique.
The person wrote back ” I didn’t mean Scotty. He’s yours. I know he’s ok.” I wanted to throw up. I never spoke to that person again. Truthfully, I’m ashamed I even know him.
We label kids. We teach kids to label each other.
Until that stops, until we look at each other as humans instead of colors the world outside is going to continue the same. I don’t want to be fit inside some box that got chosen for me by the color of my skin, my weight, my looks, my relationship with God and neither do you. No one does.
Kids have it right. It’s the adults that get this wrong. We can learn from them. We must. A person’s heart – visible through their actions – that’s what defines us. Not our colors. Not our size. Not our nationality.
America, we need to get this right.
How many more people have to die before we recognize it is time to throw away the labels. We talk about whether our country is or isn’t great, and whether or not we can make it great again.
Without throwing away these labels, the answer is simple.
No; we can’t.
We will not be great again this way. Labels. Hatred. Street warfare. Terror. Malice is not the answer.
Appearing in ways that look like acceptance, tolerance, discourse, compassion, understanding. America has never been more great than when we are united. My son and daughter they deserve way better than this world we adults have created.
So do yours.