If She Can’t Use Your Comb… The phone rang. One of my parents answered it and said, “Chrys, it’s for you.” Elly, a white girl from school, was on the line. After we shyly exchanged a handful of words, we both said our goodbyes and hung up. My 9-year-old face was bright with an ear-to-ear grin because I “liked” this 10-year-old girl, and I hoped that she “liked” me back. This was before I recognized race.
The next conversation would impact the rest of my life.
My parents asked about Elly. I told them who she was, and I remember my dad saying, “If she can’t use your comb, don’t bring her home.” In his own way, he was trying to shield me from some of the hurt I would later face in a world I knew nothing about. I had no idea what he meant.
What my dad taught me that day wouldn’t fully make sense until 9th grade when I dated Jamie, a white girl from the county school district in my town. We had to sneak to the movies together. I would call and hang up so she could call me back. We wrote letters back and forth, talked on MSN Messenger, and texted back and forth. Then one day she dropped her purse in front of her parents, and my picture fell out. It wasn’t long until I got a giant lump in my throat. I was numb. In a text message, her parents said that I was never to contact Jamie again. We were done, my heart was broken, and I realized that I was black; when I recognized race.
It’s not that I didn’t know my skin was different from my friends. I knew that. But I didn’t realize that I was black. I didn’t know that my 4.0 GPA, spotless behavior record, athletic prowess, and devoted work ethic could be overlooked simply because of my skin color.
I have often been teased for being one of the “white” black dudes. As a kid, I was a four-eyed brainiac who listened and worked hard. Yet in the eyes of many white, rural Kentucky parents, I was just a good black kid. I was good for the community because I wouldn’t break in their cars at night. I was good for sports because I had a 40-inch vertical and could score major points at track meets. I was good because I worked at Kroger and checked out their groceries.
But I wasn’t good enough to date their daughters. I was black.
I learned this hard lesson again when I found out Brielle’s parents didn’t believe in interracial marriage. I learned it when Ashylnn’s pastor was approached because she was dating a black guy. Even today, my wife feels others’ disdain for her interracial marriage when people glare at us from across the restaurant or the pew on Sunday morning.
It has been a tough pill to swallow for my wife and me, but God has been gracious. God has placed a desire in our hearts for true racial reconciliation. We see the beautiful picture of Christ’s multiethnic bride (Revelation 7:9). We strive to have a biblical marriage that will ultimately point to Christ more than our different levels of melanin (Ephesians 5:22–23). We long to point our biracial daughters to the glorious King and Head of the Church. We want our neighbors to see the radical grace that transformed our hearts and made us new creations, regardless of our skin tone (Galatians 3:28). We fight to point our community to the reconciling nature of the gospel in a country plagued by racism and division for centuries (Ephesians 3:10).
My beautiful, godly wife can’t use my comb, but she has been used by God to draw me closer to Him. She can’t use my comb, but she teaches our daughters the most glorious truths in the universe every day. She can’t use my comb, but she has helped add the fragrance of the gospel to our home. She can’t use my comb, but she dreams with me of planting a multiethnic church in a place where it has been deemed impossible. I brought her home, and God will one day bring us to our heavenly home that is being prepared for us (John 14:3).
- Pray boldly with me for a heart that cherishes diverse families. Where people don’t Recognized Race.
- Pray passionately with me that God’s people would reject every false theology that claims racial superiority or opposes God-glorifying marriages of any ethnic or racial makeup.
- Pray fervently that my biracial children will see the gospel in my multiethnic marriage and go forward pursuing the gospel that every good marriage points to! May Christ be glorified in us!