Kate Motaung is one of those friends I’ve never actually seen in real life. We share a lot of the same passions and convictions about things in this world of ours, and I love cheering her on. She asked if she could share her Going There story and, naturally, I agreed. This is a repost of an important post that first appeared over at Kate’s blog, and I’m quite pleased to share her words here with you today.
“I married a black man.”
As his aunts would say, I have caramel kids. I don’t have to go further than my kitchen table to experience diversity, and yet I still have racial biases. Just because I have a multicultural family doesn’t mean I get a pass from the diversity conversation. Sometimes skin color is not the first thing I notice.
During my ten years in South Africa, I could sit for over forty minutes in a room full of people before suddenly realizing I was the only pale face there. I often don’t realize the color of my own kids’ skin until we’re at the beach and I’m nearly blinded by the paleness of other children running around in their diapers, and I think, “Wow, those kids are really white.”
Other times, I see it right away.
Like now, when we’re living in a predominantly white suburb of Michigan, and a black person rides past on a bicycle, and I think, “Oh look!” because it’s such a rarity here. When I’m in the grocery store with my kids, I wonder if the people looking at us assume that my kids are adopted.
Because don’t I presume the same, when I see a white woman with children of darker shades? And maybe they are adopted, and maybe they’re not, and does it even matter? Because aren’t we all made in the image of our Creator, all just lost souls that desperately need to be adopted into the only family that really matters, the body of Christ? My kids often get invited to play dates with adopted children, so the mocha kids in otherwise all-pale families will see faces that look more like their own. And I wonder about that sometimes, like, “Does it really matter?” But maybe it does. Maybe it matters a whole lot more than I will ever know. Because while skin color really doesn’t matter to me, it does matter to many, and they matter to me. And most importantly, they matter to Him.
But also, maybe if we all just checked the tags in our shirts, we’d realize we were all made in the same Place. Different shades of the same fabric, a rainbow of material woven by the same Person. Why don’t our books and our churches reflect that? Why don’t the faces gathered around our tables, both online and in real life, look more like the table we’re anticipating at the wedding feast of the Lamb?
There were times when I’d sit with a group of friends in Cape Town who happen to be black, and the guys would joke with each other about how they would walk past cars stopped at traffic lights, and they’d hear the “click” of the doors being locked. I’d let out a half-laugh of understanding while my face would flush with shame, because haven’t I done the same?
But wouldn’t I scoff or maybe just chuckle at the white woman who locks her doors when my black husband walks past, because doesn’t she know he’s a pastor? Of course she doesn’t, and maybe that’s the point. If she knew him, she wouldn’t be afraid. Maybe our fear stems from the unknown, because we don’t know enough people who look different from us, like, really know them. Not just follow them on Twitter, or ask them to speak at our conferences, or smile at them once a month as we serve ladles into bowls at the soup kitchen and think we’ve paid our dues.
So this is my challenge to you, to get uncomfortable with yourself and your monochromatic table. Heaven, my friends, is going to be one glorious concoction of every tribe, tongue, and nation, every shade of skin … How can we do a better job of reflecting that now, in joyful anticipation of things to come?
Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African, has three children, and spends her days relying on the Lord’s grace and chocolate. She writes for iBelieve.com and Ungrind Webzine, and has recently become the new host of Five Minute Friday. She can be found at her blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter @k8motaung.