My sweet baby Micah turns 22 years old today. I can hardly believe it.
I was 19 years old when I had him. A young white girl pregnant with a half black son. I had no idea what I was doing. In any area of the pregnancy and child rearing but especially where race was concerned. The past few years, especially the past few months, have really shown me just how much I did not know.
Micah’s dad wasn’t there at the exact moment I had him. I went to the hospital at 1am and had him at 8am. Those 7 hours FLEW by and his dad didn’t arrive until a little after he was born. As the nurse was filling out his birth certificate she got to race and my mom wanted to make sure she knew his dad was black. The nurse’s response… “Well the father isn’t present so we put the race of the mother. And she is white.” And so Micah was white. They asked me twice if I was sure I wanted the fathers name on the birth certificate. Yes, I did.
Not until recently did I realize how biased that was. Not until recently did I realize that a white woman who had only known my son for 3 minutes decided what race he was. Not until recently did I realize that her asking me multiple times if I wanted his father’s name on the birth certificate was her way of giving me “an out” in him having a black father.
Micah’s dad, Retric, passed when he was 5 years old. In those 5 years, we didn’t see him a ton. We were both young and before I had Micah, I would say… we were both wild! We lived in the same neighborhood so we saw Retric’s family pretty regularly. They have always been a big part of Micah’s life.
But, they were part of the very very small percentage of black people in Micah’s life. My family is white, their friends were white, my friends were white, my first husband was white.
When it was time for him to start kindergarten I wanted to make the best decision possible. I wanted him to go to the best school possible. So instead of him going to the school assigned to our rent house, he used my parents address and went to the more affluent school across the road.
He was one of maybe 4 other black children in his entire grade level.
I never even thought about it. I thought, I am doing a great thing. I am sending him to a great school. I didn’t know to think about how that would make him feel. I didn’t know to think that he needed more diversity.
Micah was so extremely loved but I can admit that I let him down.
I didn’t educate him on black history. I didn’t frequent black owned businesses where he could see men with his skin color providing for their families. I didn’t take him to a black barber.
I didn’t know. And I didn’t know to know.
Micah transferred high schools in between sophomore and freshman year. That great school I had sent him to in kinder was still a great school but it was small which gave him very little opportunity to play D1 college football like he wanted to. So he moved to the school across the road, in our neighborhood.
It was there that he began to make friends with other black kids. Some he had played peewee sports with but because they didn’t go to school together they hadn’t remained friends. He got the D1 football scholarship. And then again at the Air Force Academy, he was surrounded by more people of color.
I have always said “I’m not a racist. Look at Micah.”… “I don’t have a prejudice bone in my body.”… “I love everyone.”…
But I wasn’t an anti-racist. I wasn’t actively educating myself on black history, oppression, systemic racism. I wasn’t actively trying to make a change. I wasn’t intentionally seeking out people of color to uplift, to encourage, to pray for.
My son is black. My grandchildren will be black. And it took the racial unrest of the past few months to show this white, loving, caring, empathetic, giving, compassionate woman to see just how much work I need to put in.
Imagine if I didn’t have a black son. Imagine if I didn’t have a legacy to protect. How hard it would be for me to see the importance in this.
My friends, I know most of you don’t have a black son.
I am telling you now, I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard to see the importance of this. I know it’s hard to lean in. I know it’s hard to feel uncomfortable.
But our black brothers and sisters need us. They need our prayers, our encouragement, our listening ear, our head shake of reassurance. They need to know that we support them and we are so very sorry for the way our ancestors treated their ancestors, we are so sorry for not seeing it… but that we are going to put in the work to make it right.
We are going to put in the work to make sure they are seen and heard and never ever unloved again.
This week is my last class in a course on anti-racism. It is a christian based course on pursuing God’s heart for racial reconciliation. I have a lot to learn, y’all. But if you want to learn together… I am here. If you want to talk through some things or voice concerns or start a book club or just ask a question that you feel stupid asking… I am here.
Let’s do this as a celebration of Micah’s life. As a celebration of the amazing, incredible, talented, handsome, smart, successful, BLACK man that he has become.
Happy Birthday, Micah. You are so loved.