Every February in the United States, Black History month is celebrated. As I reflect on the importance of recognizing the people and events that made an impact on our society, I can’t help bur think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech.
One of the most quoted lines from his speech that stands out in mind is “I have a dream that one day….little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” As someone who is in a multiracial relationship and marriage, with three small children, these words (and this month) are very close to my heart. I think Dr. King would smile at how far we’ve come since he spoke these infamous words.
In the spirit of Black History month and all we’ve learned from Dr. King’s famous speech, I want to share with you my personal story of what it was like to introduce someone from a different race to my family as my future husband, as well as showcase a few multiracial families in the mid-Carolina region.
Mary and El
When we first told my grandparents about our wedding in 2006, my grandfather was disappointed. He thought I was making a mistake. He asked not to be involved or bring my (then-) fiance over to meet them.
After a few months, he decided to consult my sister, who went to Seminary. My grandfather believed I was sinning, due to the Bible saying there should not be “unequal yolks”. My sister smiled patiently, knowing most of his Bible knowledge growing up was heard and not read since he was legally blind. She told him, “No, the Bible actually says ‘Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.‘ ‘Yolked’ and ‘yoked’ are quite different things. One refers to eggs, one refers to the wooden bar that connect oxen together when they pull things. If you choose a marriage with someone who you are not morally compatible with, then it is like an oxen team that is too imbalanced to pull properly, eventually ripping the yoke apart. This is not the case with Mary”. My grandfather listened in earnest: Food for thought.
Shortly after this conversation, my grandmother (his wife) became quite ill, and it looked as if she wasn’t going to live much longer. “This is ridiculous”, I told my fiance El, “I’m going up there to see her and so are you.”
He protested, “No, I would never want to cause trouble within your family. If he doesn’t want me there, I will sit in the car.”
I headed in, and only my grandmother was there. She started crying, insisting my fiance come inside. I went back to the car, and made it clear that she was specifically asking for him. As soon as he walked in the room, tears streaked freely down her 91 year old face. She told him, “When I was growing up in the orphanage, they told us over and over that no family wanted us. I never wanted to be in the position where I told anyone they weren’t wanted in my family. That’s not true!”
Just then, my grandfather strode back into the room. What would he say? I held my breath in anticipation, not knowing what would happen.
My grandfather immediately stuck out his hand for a handshake and said quite humbly and earnestly, “I apologize for my previous behavior. It was wrong and there is no excuse for it. The only thing I can say is I am from a different generation, but that doesn’t make it okay. I hope you can forgive me one day.”
El, a Christian man, replied, “Of course I forgive you. You will be my family too, after all.”
They talked and laughed for two hours, bonding as family. I held my grandmother’s hand and she asked me, “Why did you take so long to fix it?” I had to apologize to her at least 20 times. She took a turn for the better right away, now that her family was whole again.
It was one of the sweetest conversations I have ever witnessed. When my grandfather, aged 98, passed away last year on what was their 73rd anniversary – the first one without her by his side – my husband was as stricken as me.
Mel and Pierre
“Multiracial families are a beautiful thing”, Mel
Mel and Pierre are a classic American love story. They care for and support each other with all their hearts. They were married in 2008 after dating for five years, and in 2011 were blessed with a wonderful daughter (my niece!). They are always welcoming and generous. If I had a crystal ball, I would predict their future in 50 years to be the vivacious “old” couple who charm everyone around them with their undying love for one another. I am truly blessed to have them as in-laws, and the fact our children will grow up close to their cousins is a beautiful thing!
Tiffany and Simon
Tiffany lives in a Camden, a small SC town near Columbia. Her family has dealt with their share of stereotypes, with the most painful prejudice coming from her in-laws. However, she would not trade her daughter for the world, and tries to make the world a better place for her!
She was blessed to find the Rainbow Family, which promotes harmony within people and the environment, and its members have become a surrogate family-community who loves her and her family unconditionally.
Leslie and Jesse
Identities of non-adopted children protected.
Jesse was in his late 30s when he married the love of his life, Leslie. They have adult children, but felt called to be parents again. They agreed to become foster parents for any child who needed it. In the seven years they have been foster parents in Richland County, they have been blessed with caring for 22 children (even if only for a little while before the child goes to their “forever home”). They have been able to adopt two, with a third in process, and entertaining the notion of a fourth.
Jesse was so moved by all the children he has cared for that he switched from a lucrative career in order to advocate for ALL children in the DSS system, not just the ones in his home. Leslie supports him in all he does– they truly are super-parents!
When asked what it’s like to adopt multiple young children in his mid-40s, Jesse rewards you with a smile. He replies with the straight, sweet truth, “We love all of our children– biological, step, foster, and adoptive. He adds, “All of our children know they are brothers and sisters, no matter their skin color”. The simple truth can be the most powerful! [/box]
All relationships are beautiful regardless of race, and deserve to be celebrated. If you are part of a multiracial family, we’d love to hear your story. Comment below!