It’s been a while since I have written about any recent racial issues our family has experienced. However, sadly, it’s not for lack of them happening in our lives, it’s simply because I have been crazy busy. I actually have a list I could write about. As each year passes I assume we are going to have fewer and fewer racist problems arise. That is my hope, but not the reality…yet.
A couple of weeks ago we had a very disheartening letter arrive in the mail. It was addressed to our daughter and shocked us all. She just so happened to check the mail that day and was excited to receive something addressed to her. That excitement quickly turned to disbelief after she opened the letter and saw what was inside. We were with two of her friends and she looked at them with wide eyes and handed the letter to me and said, “Mama, what is this?” I read it and thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was far from being funny and was actually filled with hate. We couldn’t understand why someone would send such a cruel letter to our house and to her. The hand written return address was from Las Vegas, NV and the postal stamp where the letter was mailed was from Santa Ana, CA. Someone was trying to be tricky but clearly they weren’t very bright. After I read it, I handed it to her friends and they read it and said, “Who takes the time to send something like this and who still cares about what color people are?” None of us could wrap our brains around what would possess someone to send a hateful letter to our home.
After the initial shock wore off, the worry started to set in, at least for me. The fact that someone had our address and child’s name totally freaked me out. My other concern was how this would affect her. I told her not to let it get her down and that the person that wrote the letter obviously doesn’t know her at all because she is achieving all of her goals and then some! She said she knew that but still didn’t get why someone would send something so mean.
We went on with our day and the letter hung over our heads like a small dark cloud. At the end of the day when we all got home, I shared it with her daddy. His response was, “I’m surprised it took so long for something like this to show up after all the interracial stories that have been written about our family.” To him it’s just the reality of our world, and to me it’s so sad and has to end!
After the conversation with my husband I shared the letter on Facebook. Everyone was shocked! A police officer friend messaged me and told me to call the local police because the letter is considered hate mail. So I did. The officer came out and said that it could have been from a stranger because of all the articles about our family or it could have been from a bully that was jealous or had issues with our daughter. Either way, hate is hate. He told us to save the letter and to call them if we receive anything else. We are all hoping this was a one time incident.
The irony is, when anything racial happens in our lives it has the EXACT opposite affect that the racist wants it to have. After 20 years of dealing with things like this, our family just gets stronger and stronger. That same night, Tatiana was going to spend the night at her cousin’s house and as she walked out the door she sarcastically said, “Okay, I’m leaving now and I’m going out to achieve nothing in life!” We all just laughed! I was so happy to see she was taking it all in stride and was totally confident in herself and all that she is achieving. Smiles all around!
In the end I feel sorry for someone who has so much hate inside they feel the need to send it through the mail in an anonymous letter. The energy it took to write the letter, think about the fake address and send it, all based on hate….what a horrible way to live. I don’t wish that on anyone.
We are now MORE determined than ever to live in love and to continue to follow our dreams! I forgive the hate and I hope the letter writer is able to let it go and find love and happiness in their life…sooner than later. That is my dream for them.
By: Wendy Rhein
Because of a blog I wrote a few weeks ago about talking to my 6 ½-year-old son about racism, I had a great conversation this week with his best buddy’s mom. Here are two little boys (they would both puff out their chests and tell me they are NOT little!), both biracial, who intend to become the President of the United States and the head of the Secret Service so they can work together when they are old. Old, like when they are their parents’ ages.
So, I had the good fortune this week to talk to this great kid’s mother about this very fine line we tread as mothers of biracial kids: wanting them to be aware of racism and other people’s bigotries, while also not planting the seed that any bad behavior or injustice is racially motivated.
I want my kids to be aware that racism exists and is often displayed in the most back-handed, cruel, and mean-spirited of ways. It is this kind of racism that eats away at the soul and passion of people. It could be any ism I suppose. It is belittling, causes you to question and feel judged, for being different, or other. I want them to know so that as they grow they can point it out, literally point, at the person or situation and say “ah, I see that. I see that that really isn’t about ME as a person but about that person’s narrow-mindedness,” and then not take it personally. On the other hand, I also want them to be aware of it so they can fight against those injustices and again, point them out and bring them into the light so that they become shameful and unacceptable instead of quietly endured and tolerated.
Not that I have high expectations or anything…
But on the other hand, I want to balance it with the very real idea that mean-spirited actions, cruel and back-handed comments are not always about race. Someone ignoring you in a store? An older woman crosses the street when she sees a couple of teenagers coming her way? A teacher says she didn’t expect you to do well on that math test? Not necessarily a black thing. I don’t want to put a chip on his shoulder, that’s not my goal as his mother, and I want to be sure to knock it off if he develops one of his own. Be responsible for your own actions, your own choices. Recognize that while yes, there are racist people out there and he will certainly come upon them, as we do now, there are also people who are just having a bad day. Or are generally unhappy and mean. It isn’t all about you, baby. You’re the center of my world, but not the world of the cashier at Safeway.
So as a mother, how do I impress these very heady ideas on a young child, giving him the space and support to stand up for himself and what he believes while simultaneously allowing him to be a kid, see good in other people, and not think that other people’s crap is about him personally? I keep talking. I keep making mistakes. I ask him what he thinks. It is a daily balance for me. I probably think about it more often than I need to. And I know for a fact I talk about it more often than makes some of my friends comfortable. That mama bear thing comes out in a way that can make others uneasy but hey, these are my kids and for me this is a very real parenting issue. I am incredibly thankful for the friends and a forum to share stories and concerns. Maybe we need a club. One that serves wine.
By: Amy Wise
If you’ve been reading the blogs here at The Next Family for some time now, you know that each month has a theme. Last month it was “love,” and this month it’s all about “change.” I have to say, change has never been my favorite thing. Maybe because I had to move a bazillion times growing up since my Dad, who is a “slight” over achiever…(go ahead, family…giggle) moved us quite a lot for his various career advancements. He felt advancing “his” career also advanced the family and our future. However, when moving a bazillion times means changing schools, changing friends, changing boyfriends, changing houses, changing states, changing, well, pretty much everything, change can become VERY irritating!
Now that I’m a “big girl,” I have lived in the same house for over 13 years, and the same county for over 22 years. I put a halt to the change, big time! Life however, has a funny way of making us change whether we like it or not. So I have to admit, (Dad now it’s your turn to giggle) all that change growing up is coming in handy now that I’m having to deal with all of life’s challenges.
Not only am I embracing change, I’m all about teaching others how to change and roll with the punches as well. When I write about interracial marriage and family, it’s not only about sharing with those that are in these types of relationships, but also about changing the mind-set of those who don’t agree with “our type” of marriage and family. It’s not easy to change attitudes that have been taught year after year, but it can be done. With patience, love, understanding, and a cool head, change truly can happen.
One amazing story of change can be found here:
The Many Shades Of Love
This is the story of a racist client that I was, and am, determined to change. I feel that if someone can be taught to be a racist they can also be taught to be tolerant. It might take longer with an adult, but it can happen, and that’s a GREAT change!!
The change in my life, from losing my business due to others’ negligence, to becoming a writer, has allowed me to open my heart and soul to people whom I never would have reached before. To be able to take hate and change it to love, well that’s just worth every minute of life’s challenges that have brought me to this point today. Change…it didn’t used to be my friend, but now we’re “homies!”
Amy Wise is a Freelance Writer in San Diego.
You can read more on The Many Shades Of Love