I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘african-american’

The Good Fight

My two previous posts notwithstanding, I don’t tend to dwell on this element of our relationship: 

 

I must confess that there is one time I am given a stark reminder of our cultural differences. Any guess? I’ll wait while you think. 
Would you care for a hint? 

  
Our radio presets, naturally. 

I feel it’s important to note before I proceed that I do not believe in “white music” or “black music” in the stereotypical sense of music belonging to certain listeners. Of course music originates from different cultures, and even subsets of American culture, but all cultures share a need to express feelings through music. I do not think it is inherently bad that people like what they know. Problems occur when we are judged for listening to music that is not “ours.” That’s stupid. Know that when I write “his music,” I am referring to his preferences, not his culture.

I am happy to report that I really dig Adonis’ music. He loves Greek music, classic rock, and soft rock. He enjoys my music as well – soul, funk, Caribbean, classical. We share our music with one another, give our honest thoughts, and have fun taking turns. I’m thankful that our presets will likely never be something to fight over. I do wonder, however, about what our presets represent and how we will handle it as a family. 

Now, I can hear your palm slapping your forehead. “Joan. Maybe music is JUST music,” you think to yourself. But all of us come with all kinds of presets, and most of us think that they are good and worth keeping. Adonis can listen to greek music in my car all day but I’ll be damned if he changes one of my presets. I have a feeling he feels similarly. We are proud of who we are. Thankfully, as American ethnic minorities, there’s not the pretense of thinking that either one of us is “normal,” which, of course, does not exist.

I want my offspring to not just embrace both of our cultures but to be as we are, enjoying exploring outside of their box. I ask myself how I would feel if they rejected my presets. Would that mean they didn’t appreciate that part of their heritage? Am I okay with indifference? Would I be okay if it were the reverse, that they were not into anything Greek at all? All of those potential things perturb me, but not as much as the idea of them feeling like they have so many presets they aren’t comfortable anywhere. I am ‘just’ ethnically mixed (as opposed to racially, at least for the most part) and sometimes it is a fight to feel like I belong anywhere. I think one of the reasons Adonis and I work is because as an immigrant, he has had to fight for the same thing. We’ve found belonging with each other and it is beautiful. I will always fight for my family to be at peace within ourselves and to help foster environments where others are made to feel at peace with us.

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Fully Engaged, Fully Free

The June 17 Charleston Massacre has moved me in many ways. I have been moved to prayer. I have been moved to anger. Perhaps most interestingly, I have been moved to remind my fiancé of something that is still, apparently, a big freaking deal.

I am black.

Now, it’s not as though this something of which he was unaware; in fact, I believe he possesses a hyper-awareness of this as we are out and about. He’ll tell me that he notices people looking at us when we are together. While I choose to pretend that it’s simply because we are unbelievably good-looking, I know that I’ve just developed an immunity to such looks, which are on the spectrum from curiosity to hatred. When you live life as a racial minority, being weird is normal. Adonis is choosing to join the club by marriage.

When you eat chocolate, you manage your calories. When you marry chocolate, however, there is a lot more to manage. Are you prepared to be the father of a black son? It is my desire that any child that God gives us will embrace all parts of their heritage – Greek, Jamaican, African, American. The reality will be that if I have a son walking home from school, the ‘Tyrone’ part of his heritage will be seen, not the ‘Onassis.’ What are we doing as a couple, as Hyphenated-Americans, as good citizens who profess to love Jesus – to make this less scary?

Yesterday, the two of us were buying fireworks and we saw someone wearing a hat with two flags. One was the American flag, and why wouldn’t someone be wearing his country’s flag on the day the country’s Independence is celebrated? The other was the flag of a country that attacked the United States, the irony of which I’m sure was missed by the bearer. I stared at him as he proudly spoke of his rights to be able to wear what he wants because this is his MURKA. I was ready to leave before I realized he didn’t work there but was simply a blessed patron. How remarkable it must be to wear something that represents hatred and freely walk about while Jamal Onassis will have to be reminded that he’s taking his life into his own hands when he wears a hoodie and keeps his hands in his pockets.

In the meantime, I am happy that the most important freedom is not in the hands of anyone who perceives me, the choice of my fiancé, or our babies. Surely that fool at the fireworks stand is shackled by ignorance – at best. I am free in Christ and am thankful that no one can take that away from me. God help us figure out a way to engage the culture so future mothers don’t have to heave a mournful sigh at the thought of buying her son a sweater.

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