Love In A Big World: Finding identity in diversity

July 14th, 2017

Whenever my 19-year-old chooses to spend time with me, I’m one happy mama. Last Friday night, which we all know is prime time for teenagers, he accompanied me to hear a friend play music at a local venue. When we walked in, we were immediately greeted by more friends who were there to lend their support to the artist on stage. We shared food, jokes, music, pictures, stories and laughter.

After the show, we spent time talking. The conversation was intellectually stimulating. Our friend was sharing his experience as a beekeeper and what he’s learned about the healing properties of bee venom. I glanced at my son as he listened and learned about natural remedies. I thought to myself, “This is so good for him.”

If you know me even a little, you know I love kids and diversity. My own children are adopted. Over the years we have had countless conversations about race and identity. Each of my kids chooses to identify themselves uniquely. My youngest calls himself brown. My daughter says, “I’m black”. My oldest refers to both the white side and the black side in different situations.

My son is street smart. When he moved to the suburbs with his dad years ago, he quickly learned what gives him status. The kid collects sneakers like a woman collects high heels. He is a star football player who listens to rap on his boosted speakers. I can always hear him coming home.

As we stood there Friday night listening to our Afro-wearing, former Marine/poet/actor/beekeeper friend, I thought, “The stereotypes are crashing down.”

The next day I composed this post and shared it on FaceBook:

“As a single mother of three adopted biracial children, I have been intentional about diversity in our lives. That intentionality includes food, books, church, music, movies, neighborhood & friends. Today I am thankful for my strong brothers who teach my children by their example that black men love Jesus & are kind, wise, educated, talented, married, employed, intelligent, financially successful and witty. Our friends are poets, welders, IT experts, business owners, musicians, gardeners, developers, engineers, bee keepers, pastors — LEADERS! Thank you for your presence & encouragement!” 

Identity includes race, but it is more than race. Identity is the sum total of our beliefs, choices, experiences and loved ones. We are a beautiful mosaic of those who are closest to us. Interacting with those who live beyond stereotypes gives us permission to be ourselves.

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