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 yesweretogether.com. 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.”

"Yes, We're Together"

“How was everything folks? Can I get anyone another drink? Another glass of wine?” our waiter asked making a last minute pitch to solidify a generous tip.

“Nope, we’re all set. Could we have the check please? We’re trying to catch a movie,” my husband replied.

“Sure, do you need the check split?”

“Yup. Could you just split it between the three couples?”

All of a sudden a puzzled look came across our waiter’s face. Our formerly fast-talking and gregarious waiter suddenly began stammering, wrinkling his eyebrows and looked like it hurt for him to think. Either that or he was constipated. I began laughing because I knew the cause of his perplexed look. We were three interracial couples sharing a meal dinner together and he didn’t quite know “who to pair with whom.”

Strangely enough, my husband and I find ourselves stating, “Yes, we’re together,” most often in places projected as bastions of progressivism like the prepared foods counter at Whole Foods, the Trader Joe’s cash register, the Summer Farmer’s Market, Macy’s or the elevator in our apartment building. How ironic then that so many people in so many “open-minded” cities question the idea that a man and a woman, of different races, could choose to be together on purpose.

Losing My Virginity

“Helloooooo Sheperdstown, West Virginiaaaaaaaa!”

Crickets. All I hear are crickets. The concierge told me that Wednesday Night Karaoke at the Rumsey Bar was the highlight of the week. As I step on stage and look out onto the packed room of lily-white West Virginians, I reconsider whether performing “Jump” by Kriss Kross is really a good idea. Because aside from my irregularly rapid heartbeat and the sweat beads rolling from my hairline into my inner ear, all I hear are crickets.

“Sorry about the mic feedback everyone, my hands just won’t stop shaking! Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Um…so…how’s everybody out there doing tonight?! My name is Tinu and I’m here at the Eastern Development Management Center with the group from the Presidential Management Fellowship Program. Where you at PMFs?! Where you at?! Okay! Okay! I see you! I see you! So…uh…I’m a little nervous because this is my first time--”

“We got ourselves a KARAOKE VIRGIN!” the deejay’s sudden exclamation startled me. I took a step back away from the crowd toward the back of the stage.

“VIR-GIN! VIR-GIN! VIR-GIN!” the crowd erupted while clapping, hi-fiving, and table banging. I took another step back.

“Yes. I am a virgin so please be gentle. I-am-a-ka-ra-o-ke-vir-gin,” I state slowly, elongating every syllable as much as possible to stave the inevitable. I just hope this goes over better than that scene with Cameron Diaz in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

“Well, I hope you like this song,” I continue. “It’s an oldie but goodie. Excuse me Mr. Deejay, sir? How does this work? Where am I supposed to look? Oh, at the screen? Okay, thank you.”

By the end of my performance, the crowd is clearly impressed with my ability to rhyme “Some of them try to rhyme but they can’t rhyme like this,” “Miggida Mac Daddy” and “Wiggida wack” three times fast. I carry an air of euphoria as I leave the stage high-fiving the deejay amid thunderous applause, making my way back to a table where my fellow PMFs and an Appletini awaited. That night, I learn three important life lessons:

1. Take risks.
2. White people love hip-hop.
3. Challenge the assumptions.

And like that fateful Wednesday night at Rumsey’s Bar, starting “Yesweretogether.com” is new, risky, and uncharted territory. All I hear are crickets. I’m a website/blog virgin. I reconsider whether writing about the humorous realities of interracial/intercultural love in modern America is really a good idea. My heart is beating fast and my palms are sweaty. The difference is that now I know courage isn’t waiting for the absence of fear, but doing things afraid.