#RacialRec: Bloodlines ~ Can We Change Our Vision?

Part Two/Section Four: Interracial Marriage and Prejudice

Natasha to Trillia: I believe you have written about your interracial marriage. Can you please share your experience with us? What are some of the real life challenges of raising multi-cultural children in America? Please respond to Piper’s statement: “The bloodline of Christ is deeper than the bloodlines of race.” 

Trillia Newbell photosI have written about my marriage on Today’s Christian Woman. The first article, “United in Christ”, addresses how interracial marriage reflects the gospel and has the potential to bring God glory. The second article, “Interracial and One in Christ”, takes a closer look into my marriage, the struggles, and how God unites us despite our differences.

Honestly, I have not experienced any real-life challenges raising biracial children in America—yet. They are very young, so most of the struggles I have experienced have been a result of my own fear. Fear of rejection from my son in particular as he grows older and realizes how different (outwardly speaking) we are. I am no longer as fearful as I was when I first gave birth to him, nearly seven years ago. People have assumed quite frequently that I am my children’s nanny or babysitter. My kids have very light complexions. Some might say that they simply do not look biracial—they look white. So I have had people ask me if I were watching them, and I simply and kindly reply, I am their mother.

Oh what a wonderful sentence; “The bloodline of Christ is deeper than the bloodlines of race.” I am thankful for this sentence. Yes, my kids’ bloodlines are a sweet mixture of European, African, Middle Eastern, and Native American, but our desire would be that they would know Christ and would enter into a new family and new bloodline. There is no greater family, no greater bloodline. It’s truly a mystery, but God calls us to himself and then counts us as his children. It’s miraculous.

This is our inheritance and new bloodline in Christ Jesus:

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16-17 ESV).

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:4-7 ESV).

We are sons of God. We are a new creation. This is a glorious thing. A new bloodline, may we be a bloodline united in Christ.

Bloodlines book coverTrillia to Natasha: In Chapter Sixteen, Dr. Piper writes a lot about generalizations. What are the potential harms in generalizations that he refers to? Have you ever experienced, first-hand, the effects of stereotypes? How did that affect you? How can those who’ve experienced generalizations forgive those who may make assumptions even if the person in error never asks for their forgiveness?

The short answer to the second half of your question is “Yes, I have first-hand experiences of racism and the effects of stereotypes.” The affects are too varied to document here but I will say: I was often energized by the ignorance. It was easy to forgive because most of the time, I either didn’t have a personal relationship or much respect for the individual(s) in the first place, so there was no love lost between us.

Dr. Piper begins this particular section of the chapter with the simple statement, “generalizing from the particulars of our experience and drawing probability judgments on that basis—is both inevitable and good (219).” I think it’s is important to note here that he is not saying all generalizations are bad. He also rightfully points out, however, that “generalizations can be horribly mistaken (220).” The problem, as Dr. Piper writes it, is “when probability judgments become sinful prejudice (221),” noting “there is a fine line between legitimate probably judgments and sinful prejudice (222).”

The best way I can paint a picture for Dr. Piper’s words is by sharing how I have stereotyped against others—in this case, the “they” I am referring to is all men. I recall one of the first times we left our daughter in the Sunday School class at our local church. She might have been three years old at the time, and her Sunday School teacher was a male. He was a nice guy and the only adult in the room with several kids. He assured me another teacher was on the way and my daughter would be fine. My daughter was her happy-go-lucky self, and I did not feel like she was in any danger. I simply did not like the thought of leaving her with a strange man. I didn’t even realize I was discriminating until I read the article, “I was a Reverse Discriminator.”

There is nothing is my background that leads me to distrust men. I have maintained quite healthy relationships with men both in and outside of the church. Additionally, this church does background screenings on their primary children teachers (though I did not know that at the time). I did know, however, that the church has metal locks on the children’s wing of the building so obviously they take the safety of children seriously. Since that point, I have become friends with this particular man’s wife. He is great with children and I am glad he is serving the children of our church. I need to exercise wisdom and discernment as a parent, and I need to do that on the basis of individuals and not an entire gender. In this particular case, my generalization was horribly mistaken.

The topic of generalizations takes somewhat of a different form when you address it from the perspective of race and ethnicity or even social, economic class. I just finished reading Mark Labberton’s book, The Dangerous Act of Loving your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus. He does an excellent job building a case of how we misperceive, how we choose to see, how we misname people, and how all of that changes the way we act and justifies our prejudice and self-righteous responses to people. He writes:

Changing our world depends on changing our hearts: how we perceive, name and act in the world. The ways of the heart are reflected in the world daily in how we perceive (see and assess one another), how we name (frame and position one another) and how we act (engage or distance one another). These three are inseparable, simultaneous but distinguishable, and they are a potent force (IVP, 2010, pg 23).

Therefore, true repentance and forgiveness in this sense includes committing to changing the way we perceive, name, and act towards those who are different than us.

How well do you perceive, name, and act? How can we all improve our vision in this area?

© Trillia Newbell and Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012 #RacialRec

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