I received one of the nicest compliments about being a parent this week. And it had to do with race. I started thinking about this after I read an article entitled “how to raise racist kids” posted by a friend from Wired magazine. You can check out the article for yourself here.
Dave and I go to a multi-ethnic church where we worship Jesus with Koreans, Africans, Latinos, African-Americans, Dutch people and everything in between. We wanted to go there because we believe that we learn more about who God is and how to love people by being in relationships with people who look different than us. After all, God created the wonderfully beautiful array of ethnicities and cultures- it’s a shame to not have that be part of how we understand and worship God.
Each Wednesday I go to a moms group at my church where childcare is provided. Rita, an older african american woman has been serving in the nursery for 20 years and has been caring for Reuben ever since we’ve been bringing him to church. They developed a connection early on- she would lavish him with hugs and kisses and listen to him coo as a baby. He’d break out in a big smile whenever he saw her in the infants room each week. As he got older and could talk we would be driving by our church on errands and he’d ask “are we going to see Ms. Rita?” which made our hearts melt. Even though he isn’t in the room with her anymore, he’ll still run over to the infants room to give her a hug every time we’re there.
This week Rita and I were talking and she commented how blessed she has been that Reuben isn’t afraid of people that don’t look like him, and more specifically she’s so glad he isn’t afraid of her as a black person. She shared about other families she knew even with adopted black kids that were afraid not just to be held by people, but to be held by black people in the nursery. Their parents would explain that they weren’t around black people much and consequently they were scared.
Rita’s compliment that she was thankful that we’re teaching Reuben about the importance of friendships with people from other ethnic backgrounds was one of the few moments as a parent that I’ve felt like I’ve been able to see how our values are being instilled in Reuben. You know when you’re kid is learning good stuff like colors and the alphabet, but knowing that you’re instilling your child with a value for multi-ethnicity or hospitality is much more difficult to quantify. Rita’s comment and the Wired article reminded me that it’s important to talk about race- not just as a politically correct, multi-cultural feel good experience to become better people, but because learning how to love and respect one another in all of our diversity is pleasing to God and just plain fun.