Wednesday, June 3, 2020
As a writer, people often look to you for words, but there are times when life is so overwhelming the words just aren't there. I have started several posts and then deleted them wanting to be careful of what I said and how I said it. Then I had a conversation with my editor and she said, you know you should post that final chapter in "A Christmas Wedding." Then the light bulb came on. I don't have the words, but my characters do. For those of you who don't know, I have a romance series entitled A Divine Love Story. The characters are a group of Christians who are multi-ethnic so the conversations about race and race relations are always transparent, uncomfortable and wrapped in love. For those of you who don't understand, can't understand or refuse to understand why we say #BlackLivesMatter then hopefully this "conversation" with a group of male friends (black, white & biracial) gives a starting point for those difficult conversations to have with your fellow human beings. My advice listen to hear don't listen to rebut. Don't deflect and don't change the narrative, just listen to your fellow human beings. The blood deep in American soil is crying out for justice and change!
*If you have not read this book THERE ARE SPOILERS!!!*
It was New Year’s Day. The Walker’s decided to host the gathering to bring in the new year. They’d enjoyed Carmen’s delicious meal and then everyone migrated to their separate corners. The kids were upstairs playing. The women were in the living room, while the men made their way to the patio or what was better known as Damon’s “man cave.”
Their living room was spacious with a large black leather sectional sofa with recliners. The ladies were sitting around with their feet propped up. They were not paying any attention to the movie in the background on the 65-inch TV that hung on the wall over the fireplace.
“Alright, now that the kids are gone, spill it! How was the honeymoon?” Lucy asked Alyssa.
She blushed. “Oh my God you guys, the people next to our suite banged on our wall and told us to be quiet!”
They all fell out laughing.
“Now that’s how you honeymoon,” Jasmine said giving her a high five.
Carmen shook her head. “I hope you guys left some money for tearing up their headboard.”
The laughter continued.
“Well honey, if you weren’t already with child, I think you would have come back with one,” Keisha added.
“That is very likely,” Alyssa admitted. “We definitely made up for lost time.”
The guys were sitting around Damon’s back patio. Dylan had just finished telling them about Veronica’s true paternity and all the shenanigans that resulted from it. Glad that he and Keisha were on the same page now, he was in a much better place. They had turned the information over to their new lawyer at Blake’s firm for it to be handled that way.
“Wow,” Blake said. “I admire men that take on the responsibility of raising one that’s not their own. I’m sure I could do it, but I’m glad I didn’t have to. It comes with so many complications and potential issues.”
Damon gave a slight nod in agreement that only Blake caught. After all, only his parents, Blake and Jasmine knew he was not Kiamoni’s biological father.
Brett was absorbing it all and to be honest it was adding more issues of fear of becoming a full-time father to Samantha and his unborn baby. At the end of the day, she wasn’t his and her real father was bad news. It’s one thing to raise a child that acts like you because you share DNA. It’s completely different to raise someone else’s because you have no insight as to what the child inherited from the one they share a biological connection to. It scared him sometimes that he might find himself loving his own child more or even worse, showing favoritism and he knew that could really hurt Samantha in the long run as well as the relationship with her sibling.
Jeremy was feeling some kind of way about the conversation. It wasn’t the actual issue, but it was adjacent enough to trigger his emotions. He knew Dylan wasn’t to blame for the issue at hand, but still, it sparked an irritation he had with society at large and the narrative they have about black men and fatherhood. The scowl on his face said it all.
“Dude, what’s wrong with you?” Blake inquired.
“Nothing,” Jeremy said with frustration in his voice as he took a sip of his drink.
Blake’s brow raised.
“Clearly you feel strongly about something,” Dylan observed. “What is it?”
“It’s nothing,” Jeremy repeated. “Besides this isn’t the right crowd to engage in the issue anyways.”
“What does that mean?” Brett inquired slightly offended as it was clear he was referencing their whiteness.
At that comment, Damon clued into what Jeremy was thinking about.
“I won’t be offended man. Express yourself,” Dylan encouraged.
Jeremy hesitated and made quick eye contact with Damon. He gave a slight nod that he understood.
Breaking the awkward silence, Blake said, “Listen that’s what we do here in this family, and I don’t use that term loosely. We are blessed to have these tough conversations to help us all grow. Go ahead and say what’s bothering you. It’s probably an opportunity for us all to do better.”
Brett immediately got uncomfortable and wanted to leave. He’d been around them for two years and absolutely adored their makeshift family. Still, conversations about race relations made him uncomfortable and this group never seemed to be short on them, but he guessed it was unavoidable considering their makeup. He just wished everyone would stop with all the drama and get along.
For their parts, Dylan and Blake had grown comfortable in these spaces. Not only were they married to intelligent and passionate black women, but they also had their own experiences with race relations as well as the fact that they were raising brown children. Their love for their children shifted their perspective as well as their love for their wives and the day-to-day experiences they had in present-day America that unfortunately, as of late, showed many remnants of a darker past to those of her citizens who were black and brown.
“I feel you, bro,” Damon said. “Go ahead. I got you.”
Jeremy nodded his thanks and stood. He began to pace looking like an agitated but graceful cat. Damon chuckled; this brother was fire hot about the issue.
Blake raised a brow and realized this must be really bothering him. Dylan wondered what it was about his situation that had Jeremy triggered.
Brett was nervous. So many times he’d wanted to join in the conversations on race relations but remained quiet. The only other person who he felt could most likely relate to him was Frank, but they were vastly different as was their experience in America so again, he didn’t even see him as a true ally on the subject matter.
Jeremy began, “Let me start by first saying this.” He stopped pacing long enough to turn and face Dylan. “I respect what you’re doing with Roni and I love the way you love her. You’re doing a great job as her father and as your friend, I will have your back if ol’ boy ever decides to act a fool. I mean it’s whatever really. You feel me?”
Dylan nodded. He understood that regardless of what Jeremy was about to reveal, as his friend, he would have his back when it came to Veronica.
“With that being said,” he continued as he began to pace again. “There are two problematic issues here that this conversation triggered for me. I have a serious problem with the narrative in this country surrounding black men and fatherhood and I’m sincerely irritated about this white savior complex that continues to be somewhere in every storyline.”
No one interrupted as they listened to him state his case.
“What irritates me is that this country’s original sin was exacerbated by white men not being fathers to children they produced by raping the black women they owned, but somehow we end up with the dead-beat dad scarlet letter because of the stereotyping narrative they perpetuated. I know so many black men that love and take care of their children. When I’m out with Sophia, I always get shocked responses from white women especially. ‘Oh, you’re such a good father.’ As if me being capable of being a good father was some anomaly. It really pisses me off.”
“I feel you, bro,” Damon said thinking of his own experiences. “I’ve gotten those shocked comments too. I try my best to ignore their ignorance.”
Blake contemplated how different his experiences was than theirs, especially in the same neighborhoods. It was crazy.
“Now, this white savior thing,” Jeremy began. “There’s this narrative that gets told to the masses and perpetuated through different forms of media that there always has to be a white savior as if without a white savior we’d perish. As dope as Black Panther was a white man still had to play a part in saving us and saving us from ourselves at that. Why can’t our stories be told without the narrative that we need them to intervene to save us? Oh, that irritates my soul. You know Lucy and I had an argument about Sophia believing in Santa Claus now that she’s getting older.”
“What’s wrong with Santa Claus?” Brett asked sincerely curious.
Jeremy turned to face him. “Look I work too hard to provide for my family and make sure they have all their needs met. So, I have a problem with letting a white man take credit for it, I’m sorry. Teaching my brown daughter that her character, as in being good or bad, depends on the approval of a white man.”
“Dude, it’s fiction,” Brett said sincerely not grasping the depth of what Jeremy was saying.
“Yes, he is, and I could even make Santa Black in my home, but the fact remains the national conversation and depiction in every movie is that he’s white and I have a problem with it. For the record I don’t have a problem with Santa as a person being white. I have a problem with the notion of control that’s lorded over children by his list, especially since it’s all made up. No offense Brett, but you don’t have a dog in this fight. Your wife is the same as you and y’all don’t have brown children. You have no idea what that does to a person’s psyche when they don’t have representation or when they equate their value to only one thing as acceptable – whiteness. It’s dangerous.”
“He’s right,” Damon said. “Tis the season too. I told Carmen the same thing man, but she was more focused on the innocence of it and didn’t want them to miss out on certain things in their childhood. So, our compromise was that only one gift be from him and the rest are from us. We make it clear in our house Christmas is about giving and we don’t manipulate our kids with that naughty or nice mess. When they get in trouble they get punished on the spot. I don’t like holding stuff over their heads, but that’s just me.”
Jeremy nodded his head. “That’s not a bad idea. I’ll talk to Lucy about it. She’s the same way with the whole innocence and childhood thing.”
“Santa is a problem but depicting Jesus as a white man is America’s biggest white savior con,” Damon said bringing the conversation back.
“Thank you!” Jeremy shouted feeling vindicated.
“Yeah, we white folk have got to take the L on that one. I mean how the heck did Jesus hide in the crowd in the Middle East looking like the doe-eyed man with long silky hair. It’s not even logical. Not to mention the description of his hair,” Dylan said.
“Exactly,” Damon agreed. “What’s crazy is most people don’t even know other places in the world have pictures of Him with a dark complexion and wooly hair. Everyone needs to watch Hidden Colors. It’s the biggest perpetration of psychological warfare against black people and the sad part is that lie is pulling so many of us away from the church and God’s word. The devil is busy, and people fall for the okie doke because deep down, one side embraces their supposed superiority, while the other side rebel against the notion they are inferior and in the process rebel against all things they feel support the narrative. But what’s more accurate is what is being used to support the narrative based on how it’s interpreted to manipulate. I mean they actually had a ‘slave bible’ where only the passages left were ones that instilled obedience and upheld slavery.”
Blake watched Brett as all this information was being passed around. He knew it wasn’t easy to hear.
“Pope Alexander VI commissioned Leonardo Da Vinci to paint a new picture of Jesus using his son Cesare Borgia which is the image most take as gospel,” Jeremy said. “But you’re right Damon, the psychological damage that it’s done to our people, which they knew full well it would, is sickening. It saddens me that so many people are pulling away from God’s Word because they depict it as the ‘white man’s Bible.’”
“You know I always wondered of all the lies that those who colonized told in history why didn’t they just take out the description of Jesus in the Bible that so blatantly dispels their account of what he looked like?” Blake asked.
“They couldn’t because if they could have, they would have and that alone is the validation of the sacredness of the book in my opinion because let’s face it, white people have been fictionalizing history to fit their narrative for centuries and don’t even get me started on celebrating Columbus Day,” Jeremy tisked as he took another sip of his drink.
“Here’s something that needs to be considered,” Dylan began. “When the forefathers set out to create this deception, they deceived everyone, black and white. Black people believed they were inferior and white people believed they were superior. Psychological warfare was done on both sides. Part of the reason why systematic racism is so hard to dismantle is because white people have to accept that they were lied to as well and are not, in fact, superior and this whole mess is not even a real thing, but a social construct created for a power grab. Let’s be honest for most that’s a hard pill to swallow,” Dylan added.
They all nodded.
Brett shocked himself by joining the conversation, but he felt he needed to say something. “Okay, I can understand that, but this conversation started based on Dylan’s situation. I for one think it’s messed up that you can come at him like this. At the end of the day, he stepped up to do what was right. He didn’t see color; he saw a child in need and did what a responsible man does. For the record, I don’t see color either and I think if we all took color out of it and just dealt with people based on their character as MLK asked us to then the world would be a better place,” Brett told them.
Both Dylan and Blake dropped their heads. Brett was about to get a valuable lesson in race relations he would never forget. They were married to black women and they understood how dangerous that notion of not seeing color truly was. Damon took a sip of his drink and shook his head. Jeremy turned to look at Brett finally taking a seat.
“Alright let me break this down to you. The fact that you don’t see color tells every black and brown person that you don’t see their plight in life. That it doesn’t exist to you. That everything that comes with the skin they were born in, not only doesn’t exist to you, but it doesn’t matter to you. As long as you’re blind to color, you’re blind to the struggle of those of us of color. It sets a dangerous precedent for injustice, low self-picture, inferiority complexes and so much more. It’s a copout, in my opinion. If you don’t see color, then you don’t have to take responsibility for what you see happening day in and day out. How old is Jane Elliott’s experiment of asking a room full of white people to stand up if they were willing to trade places with a black person? Not one stood up because they know the truth but like to ignore it, so they don’t have to deal with the part they play in it that perpetuates the oppression of others. Yes, silence is an action. Since you brought up Martin Luther King, remember he said, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’”
“Furthermore, you just proved my point that it’s not a black and white thing if one has to step up and take responsibility, but the character of the man. Hell, Samantha’s dad is lily-white and trifling as hell and Damon as a black man stepped in to help raise her before you showed up. He even walked Alyssa down the aisle because the white man who fathered her never even tried to be in her life. It’s not about seeing color or not seeing color, it’s about seeing a need and fulfilling it and color not being a determining factor when it comes to doing what is right or necessary,” Jeremy said and took another sip of his drink.
Dylan chimed in, “Uh, for the record I do see color. My mom put me up on Jane Elliott a long time ago and I have brown children, I cannot afford to not see color. Because if I engage the world through my white eyes only, I miss the overt and subtle tactics of racism.”
With that, he sat back and gave Jeremy back the floor. Brett’s face was red, and they could tell he was struggling with this conversation.
“Let me ask you this,” Damon interjected. “How many black people were you around prior to us?”
“On a consistent or regular basis? Just coworkers.”
“Is Ken the first person of color to enter your family?”
“So, no intimate relationships, like ours where you’re consistently involved in their daily lives.”
Brett shook his head.
“We can never live the experience of others because you must be in their shoes to walk their path, but we can empathize with others and not dismiss their plight or fictionalize it because it’s not our own,” Damon said.
“I hope you don’t feel attacked and I hope you take what’s been said here and really think about it. At any given moment, one of our brown children can be in your care and we need to know that you’re a tower of strength and safety for them with whatever they may face while in your care, even racism,” Jeremy said from the sincerest place in his heart.
Brett nodded. He did understand that because the love he had for Samantha scared him sometimes because it often overwhelmed him as did his need to keep her safe.
“Now, I never thought of it from that perspective. With the kids, I truly get what you’re saying, so I know I need to work on that. I don’t feel attacked, just uncomfortable, but I guess just like you want me to see it from your perspective, you also have to look at mine. I don’t think the average white person sets out to prove white is right when they’re out in the world doing good things, I think they see a need and fulfill it. I think it’s jacked up when someone is truly doing something out of the goodness of their heart, and they get attacked for it because of the perceived motive behind it. At the end of the day, Veronica’s life is better because Dylan is in it, not because he’s white, but because he’s a good man and a great father to her. Now true, some may gravitate to the causes of marginalized people to appease some level of guilt they feel but mostly people are just trying to do and be better. For me, I taught myself not to see color because it’s a distraction. At the end of the day, even though I grew up in a loving house that taught respect for all people, I grew up in a white world and with that comes the ugly things said and perpetuated about people of color. Teaching myself not to see color was something I used to help me stay away from attaching stigmas and stereotypes of what I’ve been taught just from existing in my white world.”
“When we find coping mechanisms, we have to ask ourselves some things. In this instance, are you fixing the issues of the implicit biases created from your white world or are you putting a Band-Aid on them?” Jeremy asked.
Brett nodded thoughtfully then responded, “I work in security, so I see shady behavior from all types of people. I don’t believe any one group has the patent on being shady. Shady behavior does not have a color. The narrative is there that white is superior, it’s right and blah, blah, blah. I get that, but for me not seeing color helps me not buy into that narrative because I know it’s not true,” Brett told them.
Jeremy nodded. “I get that, I really do. If it helps you with your personal convictions, I get why you use it. I know you’re not racist. I know you don’t dislike people because of their skin. We’re talking about the larger issues in society. Thanks for helping me see that perspective because it’s one I would have never been able to.” Brett nodded. “We’re all out here in this world trying to survive, I can’t begrudge you the ways you choose to navigate this crazy world, all I’m saying is don’t just think to the situation, think through the situation.”
Brett nodded and extended his fist to Jeremy for a bump. Jeremy obliged.
“Alright, are all hearts and minds clear?” Damon asked.
“Brett, you good?” Blake inquired.
“Yeah, for now. You all gave me something to think about. Can we revisit this again if I have questions?”
“Absolutely,” Jeremy said.
“Honestly, I was actually hoping to talk to you guys about something else, but Jeremy got in his feelings and threw me off,” Brett said with a smirk.
They all fell out laughing as Jeremy threw a balled-up napkin at Brett.
“What’s on your mind?” Dylan asked.
Brett rubbed a hand over his face before continuing.
“Uh-oh,” Damon said laughing.
“This fatherhood thing scares the bejesus out of me. I mean I have a great example from my father, but still, it’s a lot. However, I can’t go to my dad with this issue and I was hoping maybe you guys could help,” he confessed looking at Dylan. “Sometimes I wonder if I’ll treat Samantha different from the child that does belong to me,” he said with shame coating his voice.
Blake eyed Damon who caught it from his peripheral vision but didn’t acknowledge it. Blake wondered if Damon would tell them of Kiamoni’s true paternity.
“I think that’s a very fair concern,” Jeremy added though he couldn’t give Brett any personally learned wisdom on the matter.
“Well, I can say this,” Dylan responded. “You’re going to love each kid differently regardless of who fathered them. Each child is unique and will create their own specific feelings from you. For instance, Veronica is the child that made me a father and she’s a girl. Lucas is flesh of my flesh, so yeah, it’s cool to see parts of me in him, and there’s pride because he’s a boy, but the truth is because I’m raising Roni, there will be parts of me in her as well. Maybe not physical attributes, but mannerisms and character for sure. Once you let a child into your heart as yours, they’re your own and your heart can’t differentiate that. The differences in the way you parent them will come from many different factors, but biology isn’t one of them because you’re a good human being.”
“I’ll add this. It’s important to spend time with each child individually. Let them have their own spaces where they don’t have to share you with their siblings. I will also make this confession and y’all gotta swear to me that it doesn’t leave this room, even to your wives. This stays out of pillow talk,” Damon said eyeing each one. “I just think it will be beneficial for Brett to know it.”
Blake rounded it out with a nod just to be agreeable even though his wife already knew.
“I’m asking that because I told Kiamoni that I wouldn’t blast it to the world. Kiamoni is not my daughter. Our DNA didn’t match.” There were gasps of shock, but Damon continued. “I know who her father is, but he gave up his rights just like her mother did.”
“Man, that’s crazy she has curly black hair and green eyes, so it’s easy to not look further for physical similarities,” Jeremy said.
“Whoa, so what made you take her as your own? And Carmen was okay with it?” Brett asked.
“Well we had gotten attached to her and she had no one. Even though she wasn’t mine we knew we had a home available for her and didn’t want to send her into the foster system. The first day she was dropped off unannounced Carmen said she heard God tell her to show her His love. So that’s what we did.”
Blake just nodded.
“I can tell you that I love her, and I don’t see her any different than my son. There isn’t anything I would do for Michael that I wouldn’t do for my Kiamoni. She’s my daughter, period.”
“Thanks for sharing that man. You too, Dylan. I feel better,” Brett said sincerely grateful.
Just then the door leading to their kitchen opened.
“Hey, are you guys done with my husband?” Alyssa asked from the doorway. They all turned in the direction of the disturbance to their male bonding.
“Oh, our bad. You can have him back,” Damon said laughing.
“I’m ready to take you home handsome,” she winked flirtatiously.
Brett popped his collar. “Well fellas, I gotta go!”
“Dawg, it’s only been a week and you’re already sprung,” Jeremy teased.
Blake extended his fist for a bump as Brett passed by. “I get it, bro. Handle your business,” he said as he chuckled.
Brett grinned and took Alyssa’s hand. She smiled and waved bye.
“Well, we won’t see him for another two weeks,” Dylan said.
They fell out laughing.
I'm truly praying for changed hearts and healing in our nation. God bless!