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.