thoughts on race and expanding paradigms

January 19, 2012

heavy title, i know.

but it’s where my mind is after a weekend full of intense beauty, challenge and experience. i continue to realize how much i don’t know naturally; how certain realities for some are simply outside of my understanding and experience.

i also realize, after being surrounded by such a beautifully diverse group of people over the weekend, how much i *appreciate* this contact and community … for my family – for my daughter, who commented that she saw girls that looked just like her. i love that, and need that … the confirming and validating of her beauty and that she is not alone in the world as a little girl looking as she does.

there were moments, conversations, interactions, love exchanged and shared, comments offered … many that made an impact on my mind and heart.

a few here… 

sunday morning, we went to a predominantly black church. what an extraordinary experience; the worship was unbelievable, and led by a saxophonist (can i get an ‘oh ya!’). the word delivered, about servant leadership, was just what i needed to hear that very morning – thank GOD. beyond that, the way our family was greeted and received could be described as nothing short of total love and warmth. hugs. compliments. conversation. invitation. it was beautiful …

after church, we went to popeye’s for lunch – yippee! the scene was memorable: snow falling outside, and our family inside this little warm food place, eating some of our favorite (“bad”) food. and there was this little exchange: hubby was near a door when an elderly black woman approached. he opened the door for her, and immediately she commented to him that, “your mom must have raised you right.” they struck up conversation, she came to our table and we talked and exchanged contact info. last night, after we’d returned home, do you know that this woman called my husband to further introduce her and her husband, and insist that the next time we visited portland we have dinner at her home? she is serious.  i love that.

certainly, my hubby’s MLK Jr keynote speech was the highlight in many ways. he was brilliant, clear and compelling in his words.

but stepping “above” that even was this greater sense in the place … like one person said, they felt like they’d “been to church.” the passion and sense of history in celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr; the call to keep pressing forward, to join together, to deeply love … this was felt with such connection in that place.

we were seated at a table with a lovely couple; she introduced her husband as “The Reverend Jackson” and her name was wendy. i had no idea he would be delivering the invocation, and that she could sing. during the program, she went to the podium and sang a song with a message of: we are so close now, we can’t give up or give in. we must keep pressing on … we are so close.

that message resonates for me as i behold my husband and his organization being catapulted into a place of such opportunity and blessing, after so many long months of tireless efforts, convinced of the vision and pressing in.

we met so many people that day … countless greetings, conversations, hugs and encouragement. one stands out to me: a gorgeous woman, maybe in her 40’s, took her children up on the dais after the program to meet my hubby. they then came over to the table where i was sitting with the kids and introduced themselves. her daughter, elena, was turning 12 that day. she could have been maddie’s sister – just darling! her son was maybe 14.  so this woman and i talk, and she asks where we live. when i tell her the city we live in, in southern oregon, she tells me a story. her parents were an interracial married couple and when they would drive through southern oregon on their way to california, the kids would have to cover their heads with scarves in the back seat, duck as the parents drove quickly through the area.

we had no less than FIVE people comment to us, upon learning where we live, something to the effect of: oh, southern oregon. *knowing look*.  your hubby must really love you, to have moved there.

honestly, i had no idea. i had a general idea that yeah, once a long time ago, this area was considered pretty racist. but that recent? and such unanimity in response?! again, i had no idea.

but i do appreciate my man even more … not knowing or “getting” the reality experienced by many here, and having never heard my hubby complain or whine about the racial realities. we certainly discuss them, and increasingly in recent years as doors would be inexplicably closed, particularly re: his business ventures, where no explanation made any senses. well, only one. 😦

i do feel encouraged and inspired, thankful for the pieces of insight and experience that are shaping and growing me; thankful for the vision of the man that i married and most of all, thankful for the way that GOD is blessing our family in sweet abundance.


{not my fave pic but the only one of us at the event}


One Response to “thoughts on race and expanding paradigms”

  1. Leaves Heal Says:

    Hugs, Emily– so thankful for you & your family: right where you are!

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