There were a couple of posts I was thinking about writing for today, but over the weekend I promoted this meme featuring a couple of black kids being freed from the classroom. It went viral, which I loved, but it floored me when a couple of people’s reaction seemed to read race into it. Honestly, that was a reaction I never expected!
So today, I want to re-introduce you to my grandson whom I affectionately call, “The Brown One”. Yeah, I know, some people are going to get offended by my nickname, but hang in there and I’ll get around to explaining my motivations! For a while, I was homeschooling him. If you search the archives, you will find several posts featuring him.
First, though, I want to give you a little background about myself. Up until I was in 6th grade, I didn’t know any people of color. It had nothing to do with segregation. It was a rural area in the Midwest where most of the people were of European descent – mostly German, French, and English. There were a few African-Americans, Mexicans, and Native Americans around, but I didn’t know any personally. Whenever we ran across someone of color, my mother took great pains to stress that these people were no different than us and to warn us against racism. She often told us the story of when she moved to Atlanta as a young child. Having lived up north where there were no people of color to speak of, she was quite confused by the “colored” water fountains. When she first saw one, she thought, “Oh how interesting! Colored water!” but was quickly disappointed when the water turned out to be just the clear variety she was accustomed to. She found the whole atmosphere of segregation and racism very upsetting. It was one value that she made sure us kids picked up!
In 6th grade, a boy moved in from Chicago. He was a real mixture of races. He told us he had African American, Native American, Asian, and Caucasian ancestors in his family tree. He was smart, good looking and a blast to be around. He ran in my circle of friends all through high school and even dated one of my best friends. Through high school, I became acquainted with a few other black people, but I can’t say any of them were really good friends. Then I got married and moved across the river where the population of people of color was less than 0.01%.
Many years later, God set me in an interracial church about 40 minutes away. There I got to know and love several African Americans and developed a desire for an interracial grandchild. Both my older children were considering adoption and my youngest (a teenager then) was attending church with me there. I thought I had a good shot at it, but then we wound up leaving that church and my older two started having babies of their own. After many years, my youngest started dating The Brown One’s mom. On their first date, Belinda tested the waters by announcing that she had a black baby. Jess was delighted. He told her about how I had wanted an interracial grandbaby and the rest is history.
The Brown One is smart, good looking, mischevious and fun to be around. Isn’t God good? He gives us the desires of our hearts!
I love this little boy with all my heart and I want him to know that it’s OK to be who he is even if he is different. As a child, I had a red tint to my hair and freckles. In my neck of the woods, everyone was either blondes or brunettes and no one had freckles. I was teased mercilessly because of it. I want my grandchildren to associate the words about them that might be used to hurt them with my love. I call my little redheaded granddaughter “The Readhead” and my nerdy grandson “The Geek”. I tell them how proud I am of them and that I love that aspect of them.
In the first century, people who followed Jesus were not known as “Christians”. They were known as “People of the Way”. Non-believers chose to try to belittle them by calling them “little christs”. Christian means “Little Christs”. The People of the Way chose to be proud of this taunt and turned it around by owning the name. Those who first coined the term “red neck” also tried to give it a shameful connotation. Instead of bowing to that shame-filled spirit, we chose to own the term. Duck Dynasty is a result.
I know that my grandson will run across prejudice and people who will try to belittle him. My purpose in giving him this nickname is to teach him to be proud of his heritage so that when he does run into ignorant people, he can hold his head up and say, “Yep! I’m brown! I’m of mixed race. I’m whatever term you might choose to call me and my grandparents are red necks! Deal with it! I’m God’s answer to my grama’s desires!
When I chose this picture for my meme, I thought the kids were cute and I also thought it might encourage the growing homeschool movement among African-Americans. Hatred was the furthest thing from my mind.
God Bless You All!
~ Grama Sue