Responding in Love

SHARED BY JAMES JONES

My heart hurts for all the people who experience the prejudices surrounding interracial relationships. The times have changed since the 1950s, when a person would speak their mind, detailing how they could not or would not stand to see people of different ethnicities holding hands, kissing, or even getting married.

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Today, some people may choose to not say anything but instead let their body language do all the talking. And in our particular case, we are even “blessed” with people in our lives who let us know directly how they do not approve of our interracial relationship. But we’ve come to realize it is not about the negativity we receive, rather how we respond to it that will evoke the changes necessary to enlighten the ignorant people in this world.

Not Seeing Color

It was 1994, and I was a junior in high school transferring to a private school. Up until that time, my entire school life consisted of people who looked and acted similar to me. So the diversity of the new school was tremendously different than what I was used to.

Before I became too overwhelmed with my new surroundings, a friend of mine told me simply, "I don’t like white or black. I like women!" I thought those were wise words—words I would live by. He let me and everyone else know he didn’t see color; he just loved flirting with the opposite sex.

Unfortunately, many elders did not see the concept the same way we did. I found those in charge indirectly punished me by limiting my participation in extracurricular activities. The reasons for why this was happening were never truly explained. My character was never in question—I won every major award the school had to offer including the ones dealing with character. I fought through adversity whenever I tried to date anyone brighter than my skin tone. It eventually made me see the world from a different perspective.

Choosing Love and Respect

Fast forward to 2006 when I was about to marry my wife. I recall a particular family member of mine coming up to me after we said our nuptials. They said to me, "I wondered what you were doing marrying a white lady, but when I saw her, I thought she was beautiful." If there was ever a moment when I wanted to disrespect a family member, it was probably right then. Even though I was angry, I knew better than to ruin this particular night, so I shook hands and let him go about his way.

Having conversations with people who are in, or have been in, interracial relationships can often have a calming effect. Kathleen Crow, one of the Stories from the Trenches board members, came into our lives a few years ago. My wife and I were able to sit and speak with Kathleen about issues she experienced in her life and marriage. These conversations helped our family to understand life is not guaranteed to be full of loving and accepting people.

We are proud that the majority of our married life has lacked direct or indirect racist behavior, but we also know we aren’t immune to it. We are trying to live our lives to love our neighbors as we love ourselves—and teach our children the same. If we can do this, we know God is the only authority we ever have to worry about upsetting.

 
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