Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Today my son was called an 'African booty scratcher'...

And my first reaction was: "they're still using that one?" because I remember vividly the day a kid from my predominantly black neighborhood called me the same name. And back then as a middle schooler with only a couple of years in the US, I had no clue what it meant and I still don't. But I think the goal of the kid who called my son that name as was in my case was to demean and make us feel less than and in both cases they succeeded. Self hatred sets in and immediately you start questioning whether the skin that clothes what we call the self is not good enough, as my son blurts out "but mom I'm the darkest one in the family".

Moments like these always force me to ask myself what I truly believe about race, color, diversity and of course God's view in all of this color confusion. Let's face it; we in America have issues with race, color and diversity. Every single day I have to remind myself "you are perfect just the way you are". There are often times when I wonder if my reality, my view of self and others around me would be different if I were a few shades lighter. I've wondered if my Children would be liked just a little bit more if they had that "perfect" caramel complexion that Americans pay millions of dollars to achieve in tanning salons or bi-racial children seem to have naturally.

Let's admit it, tell the truth and shame the devil, we have racial preferences. As CNN revealed over and over again as they repeated a study conducted over fifty years ago, blacks and whites alike seem to favor the white and lighter complexion. Yes I know the study was done amongst children but let's do a study of the heart; right now, right where you're sitting answer this question for me, your answers are of course anonymous: which do you prefer if education, knowledge and skills were the same across the board: the white or black doll; the white or black supermodel; the white or black music video dancer; the white or black doctor; the white or black surgeon, the white or black pilot, the white or black president? The children on CNN were not lying were they?

You're not in this alone even the people sitting on the pews at church answered like the children on CNN; of course according to your anonymous answers.

There's a perfect solution to this: Repent! Yes, repent! I'm black and I had to repent. You see we were all created in the image of God and God called his image good! That's great news! My dark skin is good! My nappy hair is good! My Children's dark skin is good! My nephew's bi-racial skin is good! My co-workers white skin is all good! I love diversity because God loves diversity! We need to repent and agree with God and call the races and diversity Good!

Six years ago when I repented and claimed that God created me in his image and that my dark skin was good, I did something radical, I cut the perm off my hair and claimed my natural beauty. Today you can't tell me I'm an African booty scratcher' hoping for me to feel belittled...remember I repented and very often I hum the line in the voice of Tupac "the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice". As for my son, he will be ok; this is his painful journey and I don't want to rob him of the joy of coming on the other side victorious, realizing, as I have, that God loves his dark skin. Until then I’ll keep singing to him “the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice”.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Motherless Boys of Haiti

As the evening sun began to set in Camp de la Grace in pignon, Haiti I parked a chair on the side of the courtyard to watch the group of students get ready for night fall. They were on a break from school which means: time to relax and have some fun. This group of students is fortunate to have a generator in this rural Pignon community that stays on until 9 at night; most of Haiti is covered by darkness when the sun sets.

Under the gazebo, the students started setting up for the evening's activities. First came a set of speakers and followed was the radio. You then saw the group of students, one by one, started to gather as if they were following orders. That night's entertainment seemed to be a variety of my favorite music; kompa (Haitian dance music), I had never heard Haitian rap music until that night and my all time favorites are the Haitian love songs sung in French. The entertainment continued with R&B, I could not believe they were listening to Beyonce, Chris Brown and Neyo; just a reminder that the world is becoming more of a global community. They played many reggae hits especially Bob Marley, they loved his music, they sang along as they listened to the sobering “redemption song”. Once the music started I could no longer sit on the sidelines observing, I stood up and made my way by the gazebo.

I was instantly surrounded by none other than a group of boys. There seemed to be an abundance of boys in this particular community in pignon. As a mom of boys I know far too well how to handle myself around boys. If they want to dance, dance with them, and I gladly did as “Pouchy” taught me some new reggae dance steps. If they want to have silly conversations about bugs and slimy things join them and pretend you can handle it, which I did. They had many questions about life in the US, my children and Christianity. They could not believe I was Haitian. They would often laugh at my English accented kreol. They were proud of me that I came back to serve.

My interaction with the boys disturbed my thinking about boys all over Haiti growing up without mothers. Drawing from my relationship with my own boys, boys tend to have this intimate relationship with their mothers; no matter how badly they can behave, they know their mothers loved them deeply and unconditionally. Boys tend to look to their mothers for confidence; always asking non-verbally “can I make it? Can I do it? Will I be ok?” Boys seem to know that their mothers know their intentions; which sometimes does not work in their favor.

Looking at Haiti in its current state there are thousands of boys growing up on the streets, alone without a mother’s touch and love. Most of the crimes committed in Haiti are by young boys who grew up on the streets, again without mothers. Boys are abused just as frequently, if not more than girls, why, because boys have more freedom to roam about than girls and drug and human traffickers’ prey on them. I know with the many problems the children in Haiti are faced with, not having a mother may not be on our top five lists but my challenge is for us to not forget about the motherless boys in Haiti.

In the words of Bob Marley and in the spirit of those students who strive and struggle to move forward even in the midst of such chaos, we shall continue to sing songs of freedom, redemption song.