I’m very excited to introduce you to Rebecca, a presently homeschooling mother of 2, wife to her teenage sweetheart, and author & illustrator of Evie & Alistair: Farmhouse Warriors, now available on Amazon.
This is not a metaphor in regard to racial equality, being that he is a brown boy raised in a peach family. In fact, that metaphor is a significant irritation due to its unintended implications that we are choosing to overlook something that is perceived as inherently less-than in order to accept a person in spite of what they possess, rather than embracing or wholly valuing a person, with color being a fundamental ingredient in the makeup of who they are.
Medically speaking, our son has strong deuteranomaly. Without the intervention of technology or a miraculous act of God, he will never see color rightly. That’s just the state of how he was wired in all his humanness. This doesn’t mean that there is something innately wrong with his personhood. It simply means that his visual perception is off.
Colorblindness isn’t the only issue with our boy’s vision, and quite honestly, he is so good at compensating for it I may have never been aware of his struggles if a routine screening hadn’t indicated such. He seemed to recognize characters without trouble, he wasn’t squinting or complaining of headaches, and at the time his mix-ups in color recognition could be chalked up as age appropriate. He correctly identified them much of the time too, which cleverly masked his distortion. It’s just that his eyes are the only eyes that he has ever lived with, so he had adapted his output quite well, and at first none of us knew that what he was taking in wasn’t the right thing.
His perception is totally valid, understandable, and logical. But its legitimacy & rationality don’t change the fact that it is wrong.
Our boy is a problem solver by nature. For example, when he wanted me to cook a grilled cheese sandwich but I was unwilling, he took it upon himself to toast bread in the toaster, put cheese on it, and melt it in the microwave (since he’s not allowed to use the stove). I thought that showed pretty good ingenuity and initiative for a then 5 (now 7) year old.
I’ve noticed this quality playing out in the practicality of education as well. Often his instructions would be to color a certain section according to a calculated sum. You know… color all of the 4’s yellow, color all of the 9’s purple, etc. Initially, though his arithmetic was correct, his colors were off. A lot. Understanding that it was due to the challenge with his eyesight, if I even were to say anything at all I may occasionally point out, “This is actually green and not brown, although I know it’s hard for you to see that.” As time went on, I realized that he hadn’t been making as many mistakes. I honestly just thought that his improvements were simply due to lucky guessing. Until one day, I noticed something peculiar out of the corner of my eye: our son would pick up a crayon, gaze at it intently, put it down. Pick up another crayon, examine it, put it down. Pick up another crayon, pause, use it. He was reading the labels! Duh! It never even occurred to me to suggest for him to do this, though it probably should have. (Hooray for getting that whole reading thing down).
Our boy acknowledged his weakness. He didn’t whine about it being hard. He didn’t make excuses about how he couldn’t help that he sees things the way he sees them. He didn’t play the victim and protest the way that he was made and wallow in self-defeat. He simply allowed his weakness to become an opportunity to exercise his strength.
Our son went to the source– referred to the name that the crayon was designed to be, and did the next right thing in accordance to the truth—regardless of how he saw it. And what a beautiful picture was made.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a grown-up and I still struggle with a tendency to elevate my perception and experiences as the standard of truth. Based upon the evidences set forth amidst the racially charged society in which we live, I am certain I am not the only one. Insides bow up against spoken truths when they feel like threats to our intentions, credibility, and value. I get stuck on not wanting to be misunderstood and so choose silence over solidarity. Frustrations arise at the brokenness and blindness of civilization, and I’m grievously overwrought when I realize my own. Peace is touted as a means to villainize the cries of the oppressed, justifying our comfort rather than actually pursuing justice necessary to bring about the genuine peace we claim to seek.
The most worthwhile words of advice I have ever received as the white mother of a black son have been those that have directed my eyes to be opened to the full scope of history and culture, to not automatically shut out discomfort as my privilege allows, and to truly, intentionally see. Because no matter how I raise him, my dark brown son is going to grow up to be a dark brown man, walking independently of my white umbrella-shield. Choosing to turn a blind eye to the reality of what’s out there when others’ interactions are often based upon their own perceptions in regard to color does him no benefit, and is in fact a disservice that sets him up to be overcome by shock and awe.
In the case of my son’s vision, I would not have taken the steps necessary to help him compensate for his deficiencies in vision if nobody ever told me they existed. He never would have bothered to work through his own inaccuracies if he were never made aware that he wasn’t seeing things quite right. Berating him for his shortcomings would have been absolutely asinine and not at all helpful. But the truth still needed to be lovingly spoken in order for a beneficial change to be made.
Here’s the thing: once we see, we can’t unsee. We are responsible for our awareness. It hurts, it’s hard, and it takes a whole lot of grit. But in that striving and ache is exactly where beautiful strength and unity is birthed.