I think we can all agree it’s been quite an interesting first half of 2020. The memes remind us to laugh a little at all the chaos happening in our world, but really, it’s pretty heavy. From a pandemic that started in the country we serve in—and us not even thinking once it would spread across the globe—to race issues in our other home country that also directly affect us, being a bi-racial family. I’ve dug into the Word more these past several months, knowing that God’s truths alone can withstand the turmoil that constantly swirls around me.
Race discussions are nothing new to us. We have them as a family, although because our mixed kids don’t experience as much discrimination (in a language they can understand…yet—more on that later), we let those conversations and questions come up naturally. If they want to talk about something to do with race, we’ll definitely dive in. Otherwise, we’re letting their innocence last as long as it possibly can.
Several years ago, our oldest asked if his daddy’s skin was brown because he ate too much chocolate cereal. All of our kids still refer to our skin color as “tan” (which, if you know me and my childhood nicknames of “Casper” or “Powder,” that’s pretty hilarious) and “brown.” This is the pure innocence I want to cling to!
I’m still protecting them from the conversations I have every single day about their features. Most of them start off by asking if they’re my children, then they move onto comparing their hair and skin to mine. In this country, pale skin is considered the most beautiful, so I hear things like:
“I’m glad they got some of your skin tone so they’re not as dark as their daddy.”
“The oldest is the whitest—he’s the most beautiful.”
“Her hair is cute, but WOW that must be so hard to take care of and do all the time!”
“His hair looks like a bunch of bugs crawling—I’m scared of it!”
I’ve written here before that I try my best to remember that these questions come from a state of curiosity and having not being exposed to other cultures. But lately, maybe because I can get fired up about things happening in the States, I’ve been speaking up more, trying to turn around some of these statements so they can slowly begin to unwind all the racism they’ve naively accepted for way too long–even from local Believers.
Their skin tone is perfect the way it is. Sometimes, depending on the conversation, I’ll dive into the fact that each country has its own version of the most beautiful skin tone—and it’s not always pale!
Yes, he may be the least dark of the 3, but the other 2 are just as adorable. And actually, ma’am, it’s pretty rude to say that in our culture (and yours too, but you just haven’t discovered that yet). Sometimes I’ll explain the underlying meaning behind saying the lightest is the most good-looking is that they’re simultaneously saying my dark-skinned husband is not handsome in the least, simply because he’s dark.
Yes, her hair takes a lot of work, but by you commenting in such a way makes it sound like her hair is more trouble than it’s worth and I carry such a heavy burden with her hair. It does take work, but I can’t imagine her without her perfect ringlets.
I had no words for the last comment. After the shock wore off, I simply felt sorry for her. She truly hasn’t been exposed to many people beyond those who look like her.
In recent months, I’ve tasted my own bits and pieces of discrimination. Because locals believed the rumors that people from the US spread the virus here, lots of locals began to treat us differently. They would grab their children and run to the other side of the street while looking at us wild-eyed. When everyone was wearing masks, they would readjust theirs to make sure none of our germs would seep in. We were denied entry to some places. We were told to sit in the back of a restaurant. We had countless conversations that, once people learned we are from the US, ended with, “Your country is such a mess. The leaders are doing a terrible job. I bet you’re so glad you stayed here. Our country is so much better than yours.” One day I lamented these frustrating circumstances to my husband. He lovingly responded, “Now you know what it feels like to be one of us.” Talk about a gut punch!
My initial reaction to some of these situations is to lash out at them. Let them know just how awful they are being. But Jesus, also a foreigner, also discriminated against, did no such thing. Instead, he responded with grace and patience, yet still full of truth. The Bible shares several stories and verses about not repaying evil for evil, but instead heaping blessings and looking for the good and right in the other person. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice! It’s a moment-by-moment choice in how I react.
Recent events have made life in our earthly home harder and more exhausting with all the conversations in both countries. But when I take a step back and think of everyone as the Lord sees them, I feel burdened to pray for them. May their hearts be softened to accept all people for how they were created, in His perfect image. May they begin to think of how words can be hurtful. May they become aware of their prejudices and begin to unravel them. May we all do the same.
Have you experienced any foreigner discrimination over the last several months? What types of conversations are you having with locals about race issues?
Blueberries used to be a rare, expensive commodity in our country. But, like avocados, raspberries and blackberries, they’ve become more and more common. These muffins have less sugar than most, but continue to be a huge hit with expats and locals. Try them out and see if they can last longer than two days, which is the longest they’re around in our house!
Makes: 12-14 medium muffins or 24-30 mini muffins
Ready in: 45 minutes
Slightly Adapted From: Once Upon A Chef
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (slightly less if using salted butter)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. These muffins stick to the pan easily, so using liners is best.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. (The batter may look a little grainy — that’s okay).
Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, beating on low speed to combine. The batter will be very thick. Add the blueberries to the batter and fold gently with a spatula until evenly distributed. Do not overmix or your muffins will be tough! Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin.
Bake for about 30 minutes (15-18 minutes for mini muffins), until lightly golden. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each muffin to free it from the pan if necessary (the blueberries can stick), then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool completely.