By: Amy Wise
As most of you know I’m currently writing a book. Along with that, I have a few projects that are currently in the works. Sometimes I feel like my head is spinning because I have so many balls up in the air right now! I’m not complaining at all, in fact, it’s all very exciting! I’m actually beyond grateful. Beyond!
My “angel on earth” and dear friend, Amy Ferris, recently “sparked” an introduction that has now “sparked” a project that coincides with the story of my book. However, this particular project requires a little more drama and quite a bit of twists and turns. I have to be slightly more open-minded, and think out of the box on this one. I’m being asked to think along the lines of a black comedy, otherwise known as a dark comedy. For some reason I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around this concept. I’ll get there. I’m a very out of the box person so it should be a piece of cake for me…or at least a cupcake. Okay, that’s just silly humor, maybe that’s my problem! I need a little less silly, and a lot more dark! Clearly, I’m not going to be doing stand up at the Improv ANY time soon! That I can guarantee!
Back to the subject matter. The other day I was having a phone conversation with my sister, and I was catching her up on life, projects, and all the daily “stuff”. I was telling her about the project, and explained that we are taking a slightly different turn on the writing. I shared the idea of the black comedy with her and she immediately started coming up with ideas of her own. She said, “You know how Jamie always has hilarious comebacks for everything and always has crazy things to say? That would be perfect for what you are looking for.” As she is going into detail, I stopped for a minute and thought, what is she talking about? What does that have to do with a black comedy? Then I got it! I smiled inside, stopped her, and said, “You do realize what a black comedy is, right? It’s a dark comedy, NOT an African American comedy!?” We both stopped, she said, “Oh my God,” and we busted out laughing! I cried I laughed so hard! She was going on and on about Jamie’s humor, thinking I meant “black” as in “African American”! It was CLASSIC! Then she said, “I thought that was really weird that they would want the story to be an African American comedy.”
These are some of the silly things that come up in regards to our marriage. We don’t always have to deal with negative racial stuff, and sometimes we don’t have to deal with anything at all. Thank God! This however, was one of those fun moments, where in looking for “black comedy”, I got some “comic relief” instead! We all need a little bit of that once in a while. Don’t we?
By: Amy Wise
The other night my hubby and I went to a birthday celebration for one of his friends. As we were walking into the restaurant, my third hand –I mean, my Blackberry –lit up. It was an email from my agent. She wanted to know if I would be interested in being interviewed about being in an interracial relationship. She received a query from someone who was writing a “how-to” on having a successful interracial relationship. They wanted tips and advice on “surviving” this type of union. Of course I said yes, after all, it’s not only my life, it’s what I write about! But afterwards, it got me to thinking. How interesting that we need tips and advice on how to “survive” in a mixed race relationship. After 19 years together, and 18 years of marriage, it’s all so natural to me. Survival? Tips and advice? That just sounds odd. However, if I look back on all the struggles and trials and tribulations that we have gone through, well then, it makes all sorts of sense. That’s why I still write about our marriage, because even though we have it down to a science, I know there are a lot of couples out there that are wondering, is this really going to work? They are dealing with family issues, societal issues. Me, this is how I deal with it: if you don’t like us, that’s okay. We like us and that’s all that matters.
It still boggles my mind that in 2011 this is even an interview topic. Really. We really need to get over it. The funny thing about “us” is, we are just a couple. We are like all the other couples out there, the only difference…our skin colors.
So let me ask everyone this question. If a blind man met us and we became close friends without ever sharing our “differences” with him, would he know we are a mixed race couple, or would we just be a “regular” couple to him? Hmm, something to ponder. If you don’t see the difference, is there one?
Just like everyone else, we start our day together, we live our lives together, we make plans together, we raise a family together, we laugh together, we cry together, and we grow old together. Read that sentence again. Are we an interracial couple, or just a couple? It’s all so simple, yet society still makes it so difficult. We are in love, we are married, we have been together for many years, yet people still question us. Why?
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: nobody is born a bigot. Racism is taught. Let’s stop teaching it. The blind man only “sees” our hearts –what can we learn from him? How about loving this life together? One heart, one mind, one love.
By: Amy Wise
There are days when I simply forget how far we have come because I’m just living, and there are days when I realize how far we still have to go. However, there is one day that will always be special to me, and that is “Loving Day”. I’m sure there are many of you out there who don’t even realize what Loving Day is or what it represents, but to me it represents my heart, my marriage, my love. So what is it? It’s the anniversary of the June 12th, 1967 Supreme Court decision…
Loving vs. Virginia: ”There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause.”
Richard and Mildred Loving, a mixed race couple (how PERFECT is their last name by the way?..really, that IS their last name!), were forced to leave their home state of Virginia after they married because, back in the late 60′s, their union was still illegal in 16 states. Yes, illegal! They had two options –go to jail, or leave Virginia. They packed up and moved to Washington D.C. and the rest, as they say, is history. They didn’t just move; they fought; they won; they LOVED! Bravery, courage, determination, and true love won out. Because of this amazing couple my husband and I are free to live and free to love. I can’t imagine having to fight for the right to marry the man I love. I would, though…no doubt…no question in my mind. I would fight like a lion! It still boggles my mind to even think that it was illegal for two people to marry solely because of the color of their skin. This was during my lifetime no less. How insane were “we” back then!? This is why it is so important to always fight for what is right. If we stay quiet and do nothing, then nothing happens. If we speak up, and teach tolerance, then everything can happen! Sometimes laws might be changed and sometimes minds might be changed. Either way, we move forward, and that my friends, is a good thing! So, to Richard and Mildred Loving, a brave couple who stood up for the their love and their rights: here’s to you, from all of us. Thank you for giving us the RIGHT to live in LOVE!
Next up…Prop 8.
For more information about this special day and this amazing couple visit:
For more information on their struggle:
By: Amy Wise
Picture this…your sixteen-year-old comes home and says, “I want to talk to you and I really want you to listen and think seriously about what I’m going to say.” What is the first thing that goes through your mind? I know…me too…you hold your breath for a minute and hope for the best, right!? You just never know with teenagers! You just never know. So that’s what I did; I held my breath and I listened. The last thing that I expected to hear was, “I’ve decided to graduate high school a year early.” My eyes lit up, a little from relief and a little from shock, and then I said, “What…why?!” She said, “I’m done with high school and I’m really ready to move on with my future.” I said, “How on earth are you going to do this?” She said, “I knew you wouldn’t even listen if I didn’t have a plan, so I already have it all figured out. I’ve talked to everyone I need to talk to, and I know exactly what I need to do to get it done.” She knows me soooo well. Don’t just ask to do something; know how it’s going to get done. How could I not listen after hearing that? Not only did she have a plan, but she was beyond determined to make it happen. After I heard the plan, then we had to wait for Daddy to come home so we could talk to him about it. We make decisions as a family and this was big. Without going into every little detail, after much discussion, many phone calls to universities, and multiple meetings at the school, it was a go!
Well, that was five months ago and here we are today…our sixteen-year-old is graduating from high school exactly one year early. Yes, ONE YEAR EARLY! I can’t believe this day is here! How did this happen so fast?!? I’m not talking about the five months going by fast, I’m talking about our baby graduating from high school!
I know it’s a cliché, but I swear it was just yesterday that we were letting go of her little hands as she walked away to her classroom on the first day of kindergarten. Flash forward. This week we will be letting go of her little hands again as we watch “our baby” walk across the stage in her cap and gown to receive her high school diploma. Proud? That is an understatement! It’s all so surreal. Boy, did she earn this one. Big time! I have never seen such determination or hard work in my life. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy to finish school a year early; in fact she just told us the other day that she really wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to pull it off. But she did! Goal – set – done!
Tatiana has always had a mind of her own and has ALWAYS done things, shall we say, “her way”, but this…I’m speechless. It’s hard to truly express how proud we are of our beautiful daughter and all that she has accomplished in sixteen short years. Time truly does fly…and very soon, so will she.
By: Amy Wise
As you all know by now, I am not shy about voicing my opinions and beliefs. I have never had a problem speaking up or speaking out about things I feel strongly about. In fact, when I was younger, that “attribute” got me in a bit of trouble throughout the years! I always felt that it was more important to speak up about what you believe in than to worry about getting in trouble. Needless to say, I was in trouble a lot! Just ask my parents.
Recently, I had conversations with different family members that left each one of us at opposite ends of the “opinion spectrum”. Ironically, both conversations had to do with gay marriage. I don’t even remember how the topic came up, but I do remember, very clearly, how each of us felt about the subject. It was prop 8 all over again, but this time in my house.
The first conversation was interesting because the family member I was talking to felt that gay rights should cover everything but marriage. I didn’t get it. Why everything but? I used the example of my marriage being against the law back in the 60’s and asked how they would feel if Jamie and I could not legally be married today. They said that was totally different. I said no it wasn’t. They said yes it was. Back and forth we went. I said it was about the right to marry. They said marriage is between a man and a woman. Interracial marriage, gay marriage…rights are rights as far as I’m concerned. As this banter went on, I could see that neither of us was EVER going to change the other’s mind, so I finally said, “Look, I love you, I totally disagree with you, and clearly we are just going to have to agree to disagree.”
Then came conversation Number Two. This time with a different family member. Once again the topic of gay marriage came up. Go figure. We were discussing current events on the news and one of the stories was about gay marriage. This conversation wasn’t so much of a back and forth, but more of a there is no way in hell you are ever going to change my mind kind of conversation. The exact words from this family member were, “I hope they realize they are not going to heaven.” Okay, are your eyes popping out of your head yet? Mine sure were! I said, “Do you seriously believe that!?” The answer was a very, very strong yes! I couldn’t believe it. Tensions were rising, and at this point even my daughter was getting uncomfortable. She is about as open-minded as they come and she was visibly upset that someone could feel this way about someone else’s right to marry. She finally said, “Can we not talk about this right now!” We were all “enjoying” a family meal and the mood had quickly gone south. Straight to hell, apparently.
Opinions shrouded in religion drive me nuts. “Gay people aren’t going to heaven?” Really? Who decided that? Ohhhh religion…why do you have to be so mean? Against my norm we changed the subject and moved on. Mind you, I’m not done…I will talk to this relative again and ask them if they really believe that gay people are “banned” from heaven. I will ask them if they really believe God is that mean. I know He’s not, and it breaks my heart that people are being taught this in the very churches that are supposed to teach love. I don’t get it.
So in the end, I will love my “opposite opinioned” relatives with all my heart. I will agree to disagree. For now.
By: Amy Wise
Religion is a recurring theme in my life. Just the other day I was in Starbucks, anxiously awaiting my caramel frappaccino, when a very attractive black man in a suit came up to me and said, “Do you practice?” I wasn’t sure what he was referring to, and at first I thought he was asking if I was a practicing attorney because this particular Starbucks is on the bottom floor of a law firm. He clearly saw the puzzled look on my face and pointed to my bracelet, and said, “Is that just an accessory or do you practice?” Ohhhh! I finally got it. My bracelet had Buddhas on it and he wanted to know if I was a practicing Buddhist. I thought about it for a second and wondered if I should give this complete stranger my true beliefs on religion, or the quick and easy answer, which would have been, “I’m a Christian.” The easy answer, however, just does not cover the full story of how I feel about religion. I’m a Christian, but there is so much more to it than that. I decided to be open and give him the “more”. I said, “No I’m not a Buddhist, but I’m a very out-of-the-box Christian, open to all religions. I practice bits and pieces of many religions, including Buddhism, because in the end don’t we all want the same thing from whatever religion it is that we practice?” He looked at me, smiled, took my hand in both of his hands, and said, “Thank you, that’s exactly how I feel and I’m so very happy to meet you!” In that moment, two strangers understood that if we all open our minds and hearts to each other, the world would be a much more peaceful place. It was a pretty cool moment.
A few days after that, my sister and I were talking and she told me that she loved the fact that my friends were from so many different backgrounds, ages, and religions. She was so right! My friends are a “we are the world gumbo”. I have friends that are Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Atheist, Goddess, Universe, and I’m sure I’m missing something, but you get the idea. I love them all. I respect them all. I’m thankful that they are all in my life. Period.
As a child I was raised as a Lutheran, and I even taught Sunday school, but as I got older I held on to some beliefs and let go of others, while opening my mind to so many more. Being in an interracial marriage automatically frees your mind. How could it not? We are living a life that is not the norm, but it’s a life filled with love, so why would a religion that is not “my norm” be any different?
Religion to me is now all about faith, peace, love, kindness, caring and giving. I pray to Jesus. I meditate to Buddha. I talk to God. I look to the Universe. It’s all good as far as I’m concerned! So when someone asks me what my religion is, I have to ask, “Do you really want to know?” If the answer is yes, well then, I’m an out-of-the-box Christian…and so much more!
By: Amy Wise
Is this actually happening? I must be dreaming! Somebody pinch me. OH MY GOD…after FOUR LONG years we are going to trial! Justice is going to prevail. Finally! We lost our store, our health, our finances, our credit, our peace of mind, our faith in the system, our trust in authority, our dream. (click here for that sordid story) BUT, for all that we’ve lost, we’ve also gained so much, and I’m truly overwhelmed by it all. Strength, love, determination, support, generosity, and –last but not least –faith. What more could I ask for out of life? What more?
And then there’s my marriage. Wow. Who knew when Jamie and I got married 18 years ago that the strength we gained from our interracial struggles would give us the strength to get through this madness!? Now, after all that we’ve been through, we are ready for the fight of our lives. Trial. Ready to get up on the witness stand and speak from our hearts. Ready to get justice for a dream destroyed. Ready to stomp out the injustice of promises broken. Ready to take our lives back!
I choose to stop being a victim. I choose to stop being destroyed. I choose to move on. I choose to live my new dream. I choose to live MY life.
I used to concentrate on all that was taken away, but now I’m embracing all that’s coming my way. I’m surrounded by love from family and friends who continue to rally by my side. Love can do wonders in the darkest of times because now all I see is LIGHT! The trial is just a detail to be crossed off the list, a blip on the radar, so to speak. I took back my life when I embraced all the love, and let go of the anger and hate. When I sit on that stand and look into the eyes of attorneys who continue to try and take me down, I’m going to think of all of you who are in my life and have helped me stay so strong. You know who you are, and I send you my love, because without you I’d be curled up on the floor. Probably checked in somewhere, wearing a jacket with belts, and white all over the walls! You have lifted me up and made me whole, and given me a new lease on life. Today I say thank you from the bottom of my heart, because your love has gotten me through.
So yes, this week is our trial, and we will fight for what’s right, because this is MY life, not theirs.
By: Amy Wise
When I learned that this month’s theme here at TNF was “Letting Go”, I literally laughed out loud! This very minute, as I sit here and write, there are so many “letting go” moments happening in my life. So many!
Today Tatiana is starting her behind-the-wheel driving lessons. I will be letting her go to drive on her own in a very short period of time. She has been practicing with me for 6 months and now she is going to be receiving her license. How do you let your baby go to drive on her own without worry and fear? I know I have to, and I know I have to trust that I have taught her well. She is a safe, smart driver and that’s what matters. Letting her go is not going to be easy but I know it’s time. Ready or not.
Today I’m also ordering Tatiana’s cap and gown for high school graduation. This past January she decided she wanted to graduate a year early. She did the research, figured out how to do it, we had meetings, called universities, and have now made it a reality. I’m letting her go to her next phase in life…a year early! This one is BIG!!! Talk about letting go! She is ready; the question is, am I?
Today I’m going downtown for trial preparation for our water trial next week. I’m letting go after 4 long years and I’m putting my life and my family’s life in the hands of 12 jurors. How do you let go and give it all over to 12 complete strangers? How? My husband says I’m a trooper and I can do it. I know I have to let go and let the system do what it’s designed to do. I don’t have an option, I must.
Today, as I prepare for trial and to get justice for the loss of our original dream, I’m moving on and letting go and working on my new dream. I’m writing my book with a new fervor, and now have a deadline for finishing. It’s not until I let go of the old and let in the new, did this determination and drive fully kick in. It’s time to move on and then some.
As you can see there is a lot of “letting go” in my life right now! It feels like an entire new life is being born right before my eyes. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be? It’s a lot to handle all at once, and sometimes letting go seems overwhelming, but when I just let be what will be, then it all seems to fall into place, just as it should.
So today I give my daughter wings, today I trust in the justice system, today I let my words flow. Today, I LET GO.
By: Amy Wise
One thing that I’m still getting used to even after 16 years of having a mixed race daughter is this whole “hair thing.” The other day I went into Tatiana’s bathroom and hanging everywhere were rows of HAIR! She had washed her weave and it was hanging off the towel racks, shower curtain, and counter. It looked like long black creatures had taken over everything in sight. At first when I walked into the bathroom I was a little freaked out, but then I looked around and literally laughed out loud!
Each time I write about hair, and there have been many, it seems Tatiana is at a different stage in her life. First, as a little girl, it was combing through, braiding, and filling her thick, curly hair with barrettes. Then, as a pre-teen, it was adding extensions, and having them braided for hours at a time. Now, as a teen, it’s long, straight extensions, after her bi-monthly trips to the salon. I don’t know why this blows me away so much because as a white woman, I go through the same type of craziness every month when I get my hair cut, colored, and highlighted. What’s the difference? The difference is I don’t have someone else’s hair attached to my head and hanging throughout the house! Trippy!
The other night we were all getting ready for bed and Jamie looked down and thought our little black poodle was lying really still on the floor, but in actuality it was Tat’s weave! We had all been watching a movie together and she had taken it out, piece by piece, and eventually it ended up in a nice, neat pile on the floor looking exactly like our dog. It just cracks me up that this black fluff ball on the floor looked more like our tiny toy poodle than my child’s hair!
Because I always want to know as much as I can about what my child goes through, I recently sat down to watch Good Hair. It’s the documentary hosted by Chris Rock that follows where the hair extensions come from and how they eventually get to the heads of black women all over America. I haven’t watched the whole thing yet because once I started watching I asked Tat if she had seen it, and she said no. I want to sit and watch it with her so she can see the history behind what is attached to her head. It just fascinates me that there is a documentary about this! I’m sure the black women that are reading this are cracking up at me because this is just part of how you were raised and who you are, but for me it’s a totally new adventure.
Whenever we go to buy Tat’s hair we have to go to the “hood” because of course you can’t by “her hair” in the suburbs where we live. Even though our neighborhood is quite the melting pot, we still don’t have a beauty supply place that caters to the African American crowd. What’s up with that!? Hmmm, maybe I should open one…would that be weird? I’m always the only white person at the beauty supply where she shops so why not be the only one in our area who owns one? It’s a thought.
As Tatiana hits each of the different life stages, I continue to learn something new. I love it, and wouldn’t change a thing. So even today, after 16 long years, her hair continues to amaze me and probably always will!
You can check out some of my other hair stories from the links below:
By: Amy Wise
You probably thought this story was about me after reading the title didn’t you? Guess again. This one would be about Tatiana and the assumptions that are made when strangers see us together.
Tatiana drove to school, pulled into the parking lot. We both got out of the car and said goodbye. I hopped into the driver’s seat, and drove away. Someone who obviously doesn’t know her very well came up to her and said, “I didn’t know you were adopted.” Tatiana replied, “Um, I’m not.” The guy just looked at her like she didn’t know what SHE was talking about, “Oh.”
This isn’t the first time I have written about this, nor I’m sure, will it be the last. However, when “confusion” arises as to who I am, the comment normally is, “I didn’t know your Mom was white,” NOT “I didn’t know you were adopted.” This frustrates me. When you carry someone for 9 months, have 20+ hours of labor, and raise her for 16 years, you want to be able to say, “Yes, this child is mine!”
Now for those of you who know me well, or have been reading my stories for a while, you know that I am an adopted child myself. So why does the comment this boy made to my daughter irritate me? I love my mom with all my heart, so I don’t know why it bugs me to hear someone ask if my child is adopted. Is it all the hard work I put into the pregnancy and labor? With all the grief I gave my mom during my teen years, she actually deserves an award for that work! (Not even the months of pregnancy and hours of labor compare to the grief I caused my mom during those years. We will leave it at that for now.)
You would think I would be used to these “mom” questions by now, but I’m not. My kid is my kid. Period. I’m very proud and protective of my family so when someone tries to change the reality, I get a little “buggy.”
The funny thing is, nobody ever questions Jamie and Tatiana when they are out and about. What’s up with that? She is a mix of the two of us in looks and color, so why don’t they question him? Is it because he is big, and black, and scary, and they don’t dare? Or is it simply because she is brown and so is he, so there is no question? Hmmph…I’m still bugged.
I wonder if that’s why I’m so passionate about writing for The Next Family and for my blog, The Many Shades of Love. I love my family so much and when anything about them is questioned, I tend to go a little “mama bear”.
So just to clarify: No, she’s not adopted. Yes, I am white. Yes, her Dad is black. All clear? Good. I feel better now.