On July 9th, 2012, my first son was born at six pounds, nine ounces. Although pale as a ghost, he would later grow to have a bit more color like me, but not before he was deemed unacceptable by his own grandparents because of his skin.
I was raised in a very ethnocentric household, well versed on the struggle and sacrifices of our Black ancestors. I was taught to see the beauty in brown skin despite the world I lived in that didn’t, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful that my parents loved me enough to make a concerted effort to keep me rooted in love, but my heart broke that there wasn’t enough to go around for the one who held my heart, nor our child.
In 2009, I got accepted into the University of Nebraska which is a predominantly white institution. I had a few flings here and there but nothing serious until my Sophmore year when I met Mark, a quiet and reserved math tutor who was looking to earn work study hours to pay his rent by helping out underclassmen.
To my surprise, he was a scholar in all major areas of study, including history, and more specifically, Black history. He was as in awe of our culture as I was, if not more, and he had been involved with many of the efforts to bring awareness to issues affecting the Black community, even though he was white. As some would put it, he was “down for the cause,” but to me, he was just an extraordinary young man I was falling deeply in love with from the first time I laid eyes on him.
Fast forward a year and a half to when I found out I was three months pregnant with his baby. Yeah, life comes at you quick. In that time, I’d been keeping a low profile on our relationship hoping to delay the inevitable retaliation from my parents who had been very clear my entire life that I was never to bring home a White man.
Despite that, I had every intention of bringing Mark to meet my parents, trusting them to see in him what I did, but I was also hoping I could have a few more years to do it. However, my ovaries weren’t having it. So the time was approaching when I would have to do something.
Mark and I had discussed my parents Black supremacist views, before, in which he was empathetic with what they had either gone through or witnessed growing up. He didn’t want to force himself onto them, but was very clear that he would fight for us no matter what, if it came down to it. We both thought it would be best to introduce him with the new addition of our baby since there was no way they could reject the baby, and by default would have to give Mark a chance.
We were wrong. My mother showed up to the hospital, just a few hours into my labor after making the four hour drive from Denver when I gave them the call. They knew I was in a relationship, but didn’t think it was that serious until I surprised them with the pregnancy news and intentionally danced around the subject when they brought up meeting their future son-in-law. So when this moment finally came, it’d been nice to have made a more formal introduction but I didn’t thoroughly think through the part where I’d be high from the epidural.
Mommy didn’t acknowledge Mark upon entering our hospital room, but my dad had stopped in his tracks at the sight of the Caucasian non-doctor or nurse who was already by my bedside. I did notice that much, but the rest was a blur until Mark was holding our newborn baby, and both of my parents had a stunned look of disgust on their faces in realization of what had just happened.
A mother had given birth to a beautiful, healthy, biracial boy, and their daughter was that mother.
I understand the gravity of my mistake to not just come out and tell my parents about my boyfriend, sooner, but when the dust settled, my parents didn’t even care that I had not told them Mark’s race upfront. They even dismissed my apology for not bring it up sooner and immediately proposed what they thought was a solution to it all. Adoption.
Two weeks after barely any contact, that’s the conversation my my mom was willing to have with me. Adoption and breaking up with my boyfriend was the only way to make things right. Me keeping the baby was a compromise they were willing to make so long as I promised to end things with Mark because to them, this was all a “mistake” they could forgive me for if I was willing to show them I was still the woman they’d raised me to be; one who loved her race too much to be open to love from another.
Needless to say, it was a no from me. I understood the shock of everything coming at them at once would challenge their long-held beliefs, but I was confident they’d come around, eventually. But, that day never came.
Phone calls were not answered or returned. I was forbade to enter their house with my boyfriend or “his” child. Even on holidays, we were banned from celebrating with them. I don’t suppose they really wanted to cast me away forever, but rather that they believed the pressure would cause me to fold at some point. But, despite this being a heartbreaking journey thus far, I refuse.
I refuse to leave the father of my child for simply looking like some of the people who were very evil to my ancestors. I refuse to let my child see me conform to what is wrong despite knowing in my heart what is right. I refuse to let my parents’ stubborn and one dimensional view of love invalidate the love I have for both my culture, and the man who’s stolen my heart. I refuse.
Mark asked me to marry him earlier this year, and admitted that he had held off for some time in hopes for the chance to have my parents’ blessing, but he, too had lost hope in that. I not only accepted his proposal, but reminded him that their bigotry disguised as cultural pride was not our burden to carry. It was theirs.
I understand some people won’t agree with my decision, but it’s the only one I’m willing to even attempt to live with. While I pray my parents come around some day, if not, I will stand behind my decision to stick with my man through thick, thin, and racism.