Friends and Ferguson

yes, they're sisters

A few weekends ago I went to Pennsylvania to speak at the Joy for the Journey retreat for adoptive mommas.  Some of the most memorable and sweetest time on the trip turned out to be visiting with a new friend named Adrienne who drove me to and from the airport, a drive of about two hours each way.  As embarrassed as I am to admit it, this was probably the third time in my entire life that I’ve visited at length and talked in depth with an adult African American woman.

As a momma of Black kids, it hasn’t been anything I consciously chose.  It’s just how it happened. We live in a predominantly white area.  I am surrounded by white friends.  It feels awkward to try to hunt down African American women in our area with whom to form friendships that in the beginning might be based just on color.  And yet I do long for more diversity in my life, and wish that my past efforts to connect hadn’t been so ineffective.

I saw such humor and beauty and strength in the women that surrounded me that weekend in Pennsylvania.  I long for more connection with adults who look like my own children.  And if I long for it, I can only imagine my children must wish for it even more deeply. I came away from the weekend with a deep conviction that I must do better at broadening my world and my friendships. Be braver. Be bolder. Step out of my little comfy white box.

I actually wish that for all of us– that we all could live more integrated lives- the type of life where we’re just as likely to be friends with someone who doesn’t ‘match’ us in skin tone as one who does.   I think we all would be blessed to know people of every color who we honor and value, whose opinions we respect, and whose hearts we know and trust.

That’s actually one of the cool things that adoption has done for our church family.  In a Sunday school of 40+ children–ours is a tiny church–  there are 8 African American kids, along with a couple Korean Americans. I really hope that the early friendships all these children are enjoying will make them less likely to later make snap judgments about the people around them on the basis of skin tone.  I want them all to grow up to be the type of people who know and love people for who they are, and who will base merit on character and worth in Christ, not color.

I really appreciated listening to this 30-minute podcast In Wake of Ferguson:  Brant and Sherri talking about racial tension.  In the podcast they spoke frankly about reality of racism and racial profiling, and our place as Christians living in this imperfect world. Sherri acknowledged the frustration that can come from hard experiences but says that any anger and hostility is best placed in God’s hands.  It’s well worth a listen.  I also really appreciated these thoughts from Journey Mama.

Have a blessed Monday!

{ 6 Comments }

  1. Love how humble this post is, Mary! Thank you! I am smiling thinking of how a group of amazing women and men have embraced our family- and I think, much of that began with them helping us not mess up so terribly at raising Black children! It has been an incredible place, for us, to ask dumb questions (even to random people in Target). I seriously think some people started out by feeling bad for us, and now, years later are irreplaceable friends! Hoping for you and your children to find a community who will embrace you all where you are!

  2. I am that Mom!! When I adopted my oldest daughter and her birth sister, both AA, I was that Mom who would approach random black women to ask about hair products and skin lotions! I am sure they thought I was crazy! But along the way bonds were formed and now my daughters are 15 and 10 and I watch them reach out to our friends who have adopted and become a role model for younger children who are eager to see more color surround them!

    Years ago I was talking to an African-American woman, before I had the chance to adopt. I told her that I considered myself color blind, thinking I was so savvy at NOT seeing a person based on their ethnicity. The woman was very kind, but she told me that was not a good thing. She said, “See my color, see all of the beautiful colors God has made…and love them!” And that is what I have done.

  3. Mary,
    I had been so struggling about how to talk to my adopted African American children about how a policeman who looks like their parents is being accused of murdering a black child not much older than themselves. When we tried to find out more about what happened we found more and more noise and less information. Finally I realized that the problem was listening. What I finally told them was “Look, this problem did not start the day the boy was shot! It began when people stopped listening to each other. Look at both sides now, and by the way sides is a product of not listening, each screaming to be heard but not listening to the others. As long as everyone believes that their current mindset is more important than LISTENING and understanding what others are seeing and feeling, the fear, hate and sadly the loss of life will continue.” I warned them to look out for these situations in their own lives and actions. If they see the state of non-listening developing they should struggle show others how to listen by their own example. If the non-listening continues to escalate at some point it’s time to move along as bad things are going to happen and maybe best to not be caught in the impending train wreck! But at least be aware of the risks.
    I don’t know what the truth in Ferguson is but I understand how they got to this deplorable situation and why it continues to escalate. Each and every day find someone who disagrees with you and really listen to them. You will make some good friends as you dismantle the sides and replace them with community.

  4. Loved this post! I love what you said about getting out of our comfort zones, out of our comfy white boxes. Thank you for your insight and encouragement!

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