My dad is tremendously funny and a phenomenal story teller. I think I always had a high bar when it came to dating because my dad really had it all; he was tall, dark, and handsome, educated, successful, ethical, funny, athletic, and handy. He was the standard.
I was an awkward and creative kid. I wore the same pair of vans tennis shoes to school for 5 years straight, had long un-brushed hair, and wore oversized sweatshirts and jean shorts to school. Because I wasn’t popular and because I was picky, I didn’t go on a single date until I was almost 20 years old. He was a tall, blonde, surfer that ended up moving to San Diego for college and that was the end of that. My dad wasn’t a fan, but I knew he wasn’t going to truly like anyone anyway as no one would ever be good enough for me in his mind. My next boyfriend came about 2 years later. He was Italian, passionate, and handsome with dark features. We had a great run together, but in the end saw our futures differently and went our separate ways. I’m sure my dad didn’t think he was good enough either.
So here I was, 28 years old, and I had had 2 boyfriends and been on dates with a handful of others. I wasn’t sure that a relationship, family, etc. was ever going to be in the cards for me as it seemed like it was working out for everyone else except me. I’ll never forget the day I was walking to my car at work and spotted a tall, dark, and handsome guy walking towards me dressed in all black. He looked like a total babe from afar. As he got closer, I realized he was a former college classmate and coworker that I had known casually for years; Aaron. I was shocked. How did I not notice he was hot before? Long story short, we began talking, hanging out, dating, dating exclusively, and after a pretty significant period of time, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I said yes!
I was excited about this guy. I felt like he ‘got me’. He was on my level: we owned our own homes and cars, were hard working, had good jobs, and were involved in the community. It felt like a fit and I was pleasantly surprised when he invited me to spend his birthday weekend with him and his family in Palm Springs. My palms were sweating the entire time I was packing, but at the end of the weekend I kept thinking “these people are way too freaking cool”. His dad was a talker and a story teller. His mom didn’t look a day over 45 (she was 60) and was super warm and welcoming. I felt so lucky.
My parents had retired to Las Vegas a year or so earlier and were expected to come home for our annual Christmas Eve celebration. I was nervous and excited to bring Aaron over to meet my family. They had met him before through some work functions and he had attended one of my dance performances earlier that year, but this was long ago, and now we were an item. I called my Dad in early to December to break the news- I was bringing a guy home for the holidays. As I told him about Aaron and I, the phone was silent; a pause on the other end of the line, “Is that that black kid?” Um yes, I said awkwardly.
My dad lost it.
My dad wasn’t one of those crazy racist confederate flag people, right? Aside from the occasional comment on the freeway my dad never said anything about race. He never talked poorly of others. He always encouraged me to make my own decisions. His favorite neighbor was black. His best friend was black. My mom is Hispanic. My brother married a girl who has a green card. It didn’t make sense!
Your parents are supposed to be the only people you can count on to love you unconditionally. The truth was that our relationship would never be the same so I thought it pointless to agree to live with racism, rules, and unhappiness just so that we could all spend Christmas together. All I can say is that I got through it only by the grace of God and I have no recollection of my words.
We may not have drinking fountains labeled black and white anymore, but all we have done is remove the label. We don’t talk about it. We don’t teach it. But there are black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods, black colleges and white colleges, churches, restaurants, clubs, etc. Spots where the black people go and the white people don’t. It’s unspoken, but everybody knows. Well, everyone except my naïve self apparently. I am a white girl and I am experiencing racism in its ugliest form. Who would have thought?
RUN YOUR RACE! In life, people will try to pressure you to become what they want you to be. But don’t let the criticism or peer pressure of others keep you from becoming all that God has called you to be. You simply need to run your race to the best of your abilities and let God bring you to the finish line. The goals He has placed in front of you are too important to let others lead you away from them. Don’t worry about what everybody thinks and stay true to what God has put in your heart. – Ashley Jones