Conversations With My Black Husband
Conversations with my husband, who happens to be black…..
I love my husband like I’ve never loved anything or anyone before. I don’t see his color. I of course know he is black. But when I look at him it’s not what I see. I see how generous he is to everyone. I see how he treats his mom. I see how kind, and playful and supportive he is. I don’t look at him and see a black person. While I always thought that was fine and how it should be, i’ve learned this week that not seeing his color, or race is not seeing a huge part of who he is.
This week I was emotional for days, consuming way more than the stories or messages I share below and Ryan could tell it. It was late Wednesday night and I was explaining how I had been feeling and things I was hearing. I know I am not the victim and I am not looking to be comforted (this is talked about in the book White Fragility I mention later on)
But I think things hit me extra hard because I now have a black family.
My husband is black and my heart just hurt for humanity.
At first Ryan tried to tell me not to feel guilty because I am not the problem. But I explained I still could do better and be a part of the change.
***UPDATE: I was asked to share a site linking black owned businesses. I have not checked them all out but I am happy to support, so check them out***
So the first thing I asked him were what are things WHITE people say that they don’t realize are offensive or being racist?
- His college girlfriend was doing his hair. She took out his braids so his hair was a fro. Her white roommate walked in and was like WOAH I didn’t know your hair looked like that! She then touched his hair before he could tell her not to and she said its “soft like lambs wool”.
- I heard countless woman share that same issue, people touching their hair because its different.
- He studied abroad for 6 months in Australia/New Zealand and it was the first time he was called the N word by a white person. He was also called a WIGGER.
- When someone says you don’t act BLACK
- When someone says you don’t dress BLACK
- When someone says stop trying to act BLACK
I shared stories I heard about how people of color knew they didn’t get a job because of their skin color or they got a job because of their skin color just to hit a quota.
- He completely agreed
- He’s had people stop conversations when we walks by at work
- He’s had people start whispering at work when he gets closer
- He doesn’t put any pictures up in his office so people don’t ask questions
- His department knows he’s in an interracial marriage but thats all ( he’s also extremely private)
- He took lots of heat because he’s black when Obama became president. People accused him of voting for President Obama. Or they would say how long do you think your boys going to last?
I heard stories of people whose teenage son thinks about what they are wearing before they leave the house to go for a run or take a drive. Women who overanalyze an outfit for fear of being judged.
I asked do you ever dress or not dress a certain way on purpose?
- He said yes, I always consider the area I will be, the crowd I will be in and dress based off that.
- I was taught as a young man to always know my surrounding. My head is always on a swivel.
- I try to make sure people realize I am not a threat
- If I get pulled over and I am dressed like a bum in baggy sweats and hoodie my anxiety rises more than if I am in slacks and a polo or button down shirt.
Speaking of police, I heard countless stories of men and woman sharing how a scenario goes when a cop pulls them over. I explained one woman said she dictates every movement. Example “My hands are on the wheel”. I look the cop in the eye. I say “hello officer. I know you need my license and registration. My license is in my black purse that is sitting on the passenger side. Can I reach for my black purse and get the license for you?”
And on this goes.
- He said Exactly. You smile. You are friendly. I have a deep voice so I try not to talk as deep. I keep my hands on the steering wheel where they can see them. I look them in the eye. I ask permission before I make any movement.
- If I get pulled over at night I stick my hands out the window until the cop tells me to put them back inside the car!
I talked about how some people refuse to travel or live in certain parts of the country because of racism.
- He pointed out that I always say I want to move to NC. He said “I doesn’t want to live someplace where I question my safety on a daily basis”.
- You always think I am being too cautious on certain things like last year when we went to Atlanta. I was really debating on our baseball seats not due to where you could see the game best. I was thinking where will be the safest. Where is a more open area. I went with the higher price seats in an area more corporate ticket holders sit because I knew no one would say anything or cause a problem at that level.
I came across this video earlier that day and let me tell you, you cannot watch this without tearing up yourself. So take a listen.
Unfortunately my husband had the same talk when he was younger.
This is Devale Ellis talking to his young boys
The Black Talk
I shared some of that with my husband. He said yes when he was young his parents sat him down and explained this world to him.
- Its one reason I never got into drugs because if caught our verdict is guilty with a long penalty
- Its one reason I stayed in sports
- I didn’t go certain places at certain hours
- I was always respectful
- I couldn’t get too upset in public for fear as being an Angry Black Man
- I was mindful of what I wore if I came across like a threat
- I have a deep voice, I was mindful of who was around me for fear that was a threat too
- I lock the door the second I get home
We chatted about how we grew up. He jokes that where I grew up we can leave our door unlocked at night but where he grew up they wouldn’t do that in the daylight.
He didn’t really interact with white kids until high school.
I personally don’t remember going to school with any people of color until Junior high and it was only one family. But I had a couple black families in our church. I also had a black friend across the street.
He said your family is different. They don’t see color. Which they do, they just don’t let it change how they interact with people. They see peoples character. When we started dating it wasn’t an issue. Also a big portion of your cousins are adopted, and they are black too.
This is true. Our wedding was an amazingly beautiful mixing pot of color!
(Click Pic Below)
They don’t see color.
It was a well intentioned message in the 80’s but truth is we do see color.
People of color are proud of their skin color and race. This chat on The Today Show talked about this exact thing. It’s what has led to the white community now saying I don’t see color and how that is offensive to the black community. Take a listen.
I think it was a good discussion.
If you are still with me, thank you.
Now I want to share my insights, feelings, gathering over the past week. I also know it’s a lot of information so I broke them up into days below.
You can read it all today and go back and watch the videos another day or read and listen a little each day.
On Tuesday, there was a major movement across social media called #blackouttuesday
The initiative was meant to quiet our voices so we can hear voices and stories of those in the black community. The goal was to be muted and learn. No posting instagram or facebook stories, not adding posts to our feeds, not going about business as usual. But to truly pause, LISTEN and learn.
I took this to heart.
It warmed my heart to see majority of the accounts I follow on social media follow this movement. I was happy to see brands jump on board too. I truly believe the majority of those of us who vowed to stay muted used our time to listen and learn. I shared dozens of videos, posts and stories that moved me. I saw countless others share resources, black accounts, black owned businesses and amplified voices that we don’t get to hear or take the time to listen to.
This was mostly seen on instagram. Im sharing several here because I know I have many friends and family who are just on facebook, or don’t use social media at all. And I feel they really missed this opportunity & movement.
Maybe you are reading this and also have friends & family who are not on social media and wished they could hear/see/watch the stories that moved you this week. They missed an opportunity to feel ALL of the emotions, and let me tell you the emotions were HARD. They missed an opportunity to start having the HARD conversations and take a deeper look inside.
So my goal here is to start that conversation.
I want to share my take aways, things I have learned, bring awareness to things in a different view point or perspective. I hope that especially in the white community, when you are afraid to share your voice or feelings, I hope you can share this. I hope this encourages you, to have those conversations with your family, friends and community. I hope that this is received by those who follow this blog or receive my weekly newsletter and this gives you a place to start.
I wanted to share these messages and stories with you. Let’s have the conversations, the hard ones, let’s reflect on what we hear and learn. Let’s be open to hearing someone else’s view point, one we will never fully understand before we are quick to label, condemn and judge.
I also want to say that it’s ok to spread these videos out over the course of a few days. It’s a lot of information and emotion to take in. But please take them in reflect on them and be a part of the change.
It started with a square. It lead to so much more.
One of the first messages I listened to was Dr Tony Evans:
A Message from the Heart. Be a part of the solution. Families have discussions. Churches we have failed. We have let race overrule Gods word. Tap the picture to listen to the full video.
Remember this movement was an opportunity to listen, allow black brothers and sisters to share, cry, express and educate. So here are the next few messages I heard.
This is Emmanuel Acho. As you listen to him explain how things have escalated and why, I hope it gives you a better understanding to be less quick to JUDGE, call those rioting THUGS or condemning them.
The black community is not telling us, the white community we have not had hard lives, it’s just saying it has not been hard BECAUSE of our skin. This was a message I heard repeated by several accounts. I agree with them.
Click on Emmanuel to listen.
As I continue to share some other stories with you, I will be posting books, movies and organizations at the end of this blog where you can continue to learn but also help make a difference in ending this injustice.
This is Latasha Morrison. She strongly encourages you to educate yourself and not just try to rely on our black friends or community members to teach us everything. They are tired. Come with questions after you read a book or watched a documentary. She goes into the psychology about what is happening right now. Get to know the story behind individuals before jumping to conclusions. She breaks down the various forms and groups of individuals acting out to help you understand their actions and be slow to name call or judge. Rioting and Looting is nothing new.
I for one am all for freedom of speech. If you want to have a protest go ahead I support you. While I too was first thinking how can they do this to their own community, I now understand more of the pain and silence they have had. I know they just want to be HEARD. I also know there are other individuals who are riding on this movement to just partake in looting, stealing, destroying that has nothing to do with the black community or BLM.
Take a listen…she also quotes several verses of scripture
I have fallen in love with this woman. Tabitha Brown.
Her heart is so pure, her soul is infectious and her tone is soothing. Here is one message about Compassion, The hate must stop. We are human. We are Gods creation. See each other. Love each other. Click for the rest of the video.
That HELLO THERE is exactly how I wish every conversation started.
I know it’s been rough. If you have taken the time to listen to these which is just a handful of the stories I listened to, you may feel drained. Here she encourages you to RECHARGE, so you can come back stronger.
Here is one more with some reminders about being quick to listen, quick to speak up when things are wrong and quick to sometimes be quiet. Be mindful of your intension. Judgement doesn’t help anyone!
I hope this is making an impact so far. I hope you are listening with open ears and not on the defensive. A big thing I saw was countless accounts commenting that ALL LIVES MATTER.
Of course they do. Not a single person of color is saying they don’t. But in this moment, black lives are the ones in danger. Ive heard several analogies. Here is one.
“If your neighbors house is on fire you call 911. When the fireman show up you don’t ask them to spray water in your home that is safe and protected in this moment, you direct them to pour it on your neighbors house thats in danger, on fire with people in it.”
That is why saying ALL lives matter instead of Black lives matter right now is offensive, you are missing the point!
This is Pastor Mike Todd sharing about taking the time to connect. Get comfortable being uncomfortable to find out something new. I strongly encourage you check out some of his more moving videos. But I loved the message behind this one.
This is Danielle Coke on IG known as Ohhappydani She has several great IGTV but this one is about how staying silent is a sin. It’s been on my heart all week listening to others talk about racism and that saying nothing, doing nothing is part of the problem.
So here are 3 steps.
Click image below & watch
If you are still with me, thank you for taking the time to read and listen and hopefully reflect. I spent all day yesterday listening to this book
While it wasn’t revolutionary it does highlight various areas the white community, especially white woman can be racist without knowing they are.
It ends the book shedding light on how insensitive it can be for white woman to get emotional over these injustices in front of the black community, especially black woman. Remember this is not about us. It can be seen as offensive because there have been too many situations where a white woman’s cries has lead to death of many black (Emmett Till)
It opens your eyes and allows you to reflect deeper. I recommend it.
I also want to encourage you to consider a different view point before judging businesses who are taking a stand. The same way we know all lives matter, we also know all police are not bad. But there are too many issues with the system at large. So to show support for the black community, business may take away the police or first responder discounts. Please do not punish them for showing their support.
Before judging them think about why they are doing it. Just a thought.
How Can You Help?
Here are things to do:
- When the media hype dies down don’t let your effort die down with it
- Not saying/ typing the perfect thing is still better than not saying anything at all
- If it’s a choice between not doing it, or doing it and getting it wrong, do it. Learn from it and do better next time.
- Black people are tired. Research. Read. Listen to podcast, watch documentaries to understand
- Check in on your black friends they are exhausted and traumatized
- Start with yourself, look at your beliefs and see what prejudices you have
- Think offline
- Diversify your circle of friends
- Make space for black voices
- Donate to organizations/ local and global
- Hold brands accountable
Books to read:
- White Fragility
- How to be an antiracist
- This Bridge Called my Back
- Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria
Movies to Watch:
- 13th (watched this Thursday you will learn a lot)
- When they see us (and the live interview with Oprah)
- The hate you give
- Let it fall
- Just Mercy
- Time The Kalief Browder Story
- The Chalene Show (episode 570 & 571)
- 4 Things with Amy Brown (white privilege )
- Build your tribe (what brands need to say about race)
- Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
- Seeing White
- Code Switch
We need God. Way maker, miracle worker, light in the darkness!
Be The Change @jackieenos