My mom was black.
But I didn't know it.
I was young, maybe 6 or 7. I remember being in a store with Mom, and seeing 2 men talking. We were close enough to hear them talking. I couldn't tell you the exact conversation that was had between them. I remember the look on my mom's face. It was not her normal happy and ambitious face. She had a look of disappointment and a little sadness. I didn't know why. She wouldn't tell me.
Later that night sitting around the dinner table, my parents were talking. Ian ate happily, but I couldn't help but try to listen. I looked back and forth at their lips, trying to catch what they were talking about. I don't remember the exact conversation, but I do remember knowing she was talking about the two men. My mother said something about how one man was "black." I was confused.
Mom, what does a "black man" mean?
They looked at me, then each other. My daddy simply said, "It just means his skin is darker. That's all."
Then he said, "Mom is black, too!"
I was confused. I looked at my mom, then back at my dad. "She is?" I looked at my mom again. All I could see was who she was: my mom. The person who did my hair in the morning. The one who took me to school. The one who made this dinner.
Then she said, "Yup, and Dad is white. His skin is lighter." I looked at my dad. "He is?" My dad: my protector, the one who fixes teeth, the one who makes me laugh, the one read me stories before I went to bed.
They were different.
But that didn't stop them from loving each other.
In my family, there is a variety of diversity. We have members who are white, black, Kurdish, and Filipino. We have members who are adopted. My mother's mother is white, her father is black. Her siblings are half. Some married people who are white. One uncle married a beautiful woman who is Vietnamese.
Yet there is still love.
Differences doesn't cause hate.
Fear, ego, and pride causes hate.
As a child, I didn't see a difference between my parents skin color. I just loved them for who they were: my parents.
Love is the human natural instinct. Hatred is fed. We don't naturally hate differences. We are attracted to them.
Hatred happens when it is said that different is bad.
Love happens when it is said that different is okay.
Love happens when it is said, "We are the same."
Hatred happens when it is said, "What's in it for me?"
Love happens when it is said, "How can I help you?"
With everything happening right now, where diversity is feared, where race fight against each other, when human fight against human, where fear fight love, where pride and ego fight humility and patience, it can be hard to find peace.
Perhaps, we just need to start where it's easiest: in the home.
Love your family. Love your friends. Love them for their insecurities. Love them for their imperfections. Love them for their strengths. Love them for their influence. Love yourself for your flaws and strengths.
Love is not a verb. It is a noun. It is something we do. It is something we practice.
Christ said, "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, with all thy mind... and love thy neighbor as thyself" (Luke 10:27).
There are 3 relationships mentioned in this verse:
1. The Lord
2. Your neighbor
Your neighbor is your family. Your neighbor your brother and sister, your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins. Your neighbor is the Black, the White, the Kurdish, the Filipino, the Asian, the Muslim. Your neighbor is the guy who wasn't paying attention and put a dent in your car. Your neighbor is the person that made you feel absolutely worthless today. You neighbor is your teacher. Your neighbor is the one that's the same as you. Your neighbor is the one that's different from you. You are expected to love them as you love yourself.
So how do you love yourself? Do you really love yourself? How you view yourself is how you're going to view your neighbor.
I think Heavenly Father knew that we needed support from each other. I think Heavenly Father allows specific people to be families together, friends to find each other, strangers to cross paths, because he knows that the love we can have for each other can support us through fear and tribulations. I think he knew there would be differences. I think he knew we have the ability to look pass differences, and look for the similarities.
If we really looked, we'd find more similarities.
Differences simply enhances our uniqueness.
We are different.
But we can still love one another.