Jesus Loves the Little (Bi-Racial) Children

Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of taking Suzette Martinez Standring’s “The Art of Column Writing” seminar at Grub Street. I learned a ton about column writing and just being back in a creative space with other writers -- talking and reading and writing--began germinating all kind of ideas for During our workshop time I worked on a piece about the subtle (or not so subtle) messages (or lack of messages) the Church communicates about interracial marriage. As I began to put pen to paper, a song started playing in my head:

“Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world,
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Then I thought to myself: “Well, what about my bi-racial babies?!” I learned this song as a little girl growing up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood and church, but I am sure I lacked a level of racial consciousness to know how offensive the song could have been to my Cherokee and South Korean classmates in Sunday School. I envisioned my future children hearing the song just as I did but instead looking up to me asking, “Mommy! Mommy! What about me?! Does Jesus love me too?”

After taking a look online, I was comforted to know that other people were questioning the seemingly racial insensitivity of this beloved song of the Church. This clip from Youtube is probably the most egregious example. You may laugh, you may cry, you may laugh so hard you cry. But I think everyone can agree that
it’s a hot mess:

However, considering that the song’s creation in the late 1800s, one could question whether it was actually somewhat radical and forward thinking for that time. I have no doubt that Jesus loves the entire spectrum of mahogany-bronze, albino, blue-black, freckle-faced, pasty white, and olive-toned children of the world. And while I don’t need a new song to convince me otherwise, it is good to know my children will have options like: “Fat and skinny, short and tall, Jesus loves them one and all,” or “Every color, every race, all are covered by His grace.” But I think we’ll just stick with “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.”

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