Tag Archives: racism

Shame On You, First Baptist Church In Crystal Springs, MS!

Shame, shame on you, congregation of First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi!

Members of the church, who just happen to have black skin, wanted to be married. In their own church. And a few bad apples, who just happen to have white skin, pitched a fit – threatened to fire the pastor if he married them-because there had never been a “black” wedding in their 129 year old church.

News flash, First Baptist Church. It’s 2012. Prohibiting marriage because of skin color is old, old, even ancient, news. We’ve moved on to the gay marriage debate. Get with the program!

To my great relief, “the vast majority of Crystal Springs residents, blacks and whites alike, were “blown away” by the church’s decision.” (There is a God.)

But to my great embarassment, we made international news. (A God with a wry sense of humor and an obvious lesson in humility.)

The venue chosen. Invitations printed. RSVPs received. And then, the day before the big event?

Outrage from a few bad apples.

For shame!

To avoid marring their special day (and save his job), the pastor found another church so that the wedding may proceed.

Considering the outrage from local citizens and other church members, how about rallying around this couple and their guests, overshadow the few bad apples and allow the wedding to take place?

Just a thought.


It’s sad. It’s pathetic. And I apologize to my husband for not believing him when he told me about this story. (Yes, I admit it. I really was Googling it because I didn’t believe you. It wasn’t research for a blog post like I said.)

On this beautiful Sunday morn, whatever your beliefs, please say a prayer and/or send loving thoughts to the Crystal Springs couple, their family, their congregation and those few bad apples.

Not because it’s the Christian thing to do.

Because it’s the RIGHT thing to do.


Filed under In the News, Soapbox, Uncategorized

Now Showing In A Neighborhood Near You – The Wrap Party

FADE IN. Comfy living room open to kitchen area. A mouth-watering buffet is set. Beverages of all kinds, including YOUR favorite libation. All of Plain Jane’s blogging buddies are chatting and relaxing, laughing and sharing….

Thank  you, all, for your supportive comments yesterday. That post was a nice burden to unload. (And a fun way to unload it!) But it still frustrates me that I stood there like an idiot. I feel like I let my son down.

A few of you asked about my friend’s suggested retort. I’m probably mis-remembering (so correct me if I’m way off, K!) but it went along the lines of this: “Oh! That’s why we chose Even Better Montessori for our boys. We WANT diversity. We want our Asian son to feel confident and secure and accepted in his school environment. We want to teach our children that what matters is on the inside, not the color of your skin.”

Great response but as Annah pointed out, a garden party may not have been the time to educate.

And staying away from these women? Pretty much impossible. And quite honestly, the comment wasn’t said in a mean-spirited tone. The Pollyanna in me would like to think that what they were getting at was that the school population of Perfect Grades Elementary was made up of “like-minded” individuals. And we all want that, really.

The school my children attend is a beautiful mix of skin colors. There are many reasons we chose that school but the blended skin tones was a plus. And the parents are willing to shell out tuition to ensure a strong education for their child. There are mandatory volunteer hours for each family. The campus is set on many acres with walking trails, sheep, goats and chickens, raised earth gardens and compost bins. It’s a beautiful environment that we chose to reflect our values.

At least, I’m hoping that’s what those women were getting at about their school. Hopefully, they just have a misguided view that homogeneous means shared values.

I need to stop beating myself up about this.

But I still wish I had been woMAN enough to have said something. Anything to let them know how offensive their comments were.

Instead of just standing there.

It’s done. I can’t transport myself back to that moment in time. I can only move forward and give my children an extra hug. And try to be prepared if it ever happens again.


That’s a wrap!


Filed under Be-Causes, Lessons Learned

Now Showing In A Neighborhood Near You!

FADE-IN. Beautiful garden pool party. The sun is setting and children are playing in the pool. The beautiful people mingle and talk, carrying drinks in their hands save one plain Jane, trying to fit in. Soft conversations and the laughter of children can be heard in the background. Four women are talking together in a group.


Oh, we just LOVE Perfect Grades Elementary! Absolutely LOVE it!


We had Mrs. Spectacular this year. For kindergarten. She is a gem!


Oh, is it a K-5 school?


Yes, it is. And they’re making it a Charter School next year. They’ll be offering karate, piano, Chinese, expanded art classes. I can’t wait.


I know. I hate it that my little Allie is graduating. We’re going to miss it!


What are the class sizes like?


Oh, the average size. But every class has an aid and the kids are so well-behaved. They WANT to be there.


And, most of the kids are (her words are barely audible, muddled by the shouts of the children playing in the pool)

Thinking she misheard, Jane leans in closer.


Pardon me?

WOMAN #1 and WOMAN #3

(leaning in together and whispering)


Plain Jane is speechless and unable to overcome her shock. She glances over at her Asian son playing with the other white children. The chatter among the women continues as Jane fades into the background.

This scene actually happened to me this past weekend. A gorgeous garden party in our subdivision. The perfect evening. And when those women repeated the word “white” I stood there, unable to utter a sound. I thought, in that moment, that this is going to be one of those times when I’ll think of the perfect thing to say as soon as we get into the car to go home.

But I didn’t. And days later, it is still bothering me.

I shared this scene with a dear friend and neighbor of mine. She had to miss the party. I was relaying the scene and before I could finish she said, “Oh, I know EXACTLY what I would have said. I would have said….” And then she rattled off the perfect retort. (Just one of the reasons I love her so!)

But what would YOU say? How would you finish the scene?




Filed under Observations

Mean Girls Alive And Well In Our Schools And Neighborhoods

I had a “Hey! That reminds me!” moment while reading a post by The Kitchen Witch this week. She addresses the topic of bullying. It reminded me of a difficult time in my parenting years and I started worrying all over again….

When my daughter was young, she went to school where I taught. A snobby, elite college prep school. Because she was “a teacher’s kid” all the other kids knew her place in the social pecking order. But because her personality was so bubbly and charismatic she was easily one of the most popular kids in her class. Plus, the school was small. And the thing I loved about our school was that because of our size (or lack of size)  – if you alienated an individual or another small group you were committing social suicide. Because next year? That group of kids you ostracized may be the only ones in your classes. And you might have to go friendless that year.

I taught in the high school. There was very little drama. Few cliques. Everyone was pretty much accepting of one another. And we had a quite a mix of students. Mix of skin color, economic status, social abilities. We had students with Tourette’s or weight issues that were part of the “IN” crowd. I know it sounds idyllic – but that was the amazing thing about our school. Small class sizes = Big acceptance.

My daughter started gymnastics at age 6 and by the time she was 8 she “would just DIE without it.” (Her words. Not mine.) So we found the best gym we could afford (1 hour away) and made the sacrifices necessary. By the time she was 9, she was working out 20 hours a week. At this level of competition many of the other girls were homeschooled. To preserve our sanity, we followed suit.

For four years.

And then suddenly, she quit. Without warning. (A story for another post)

So we offered her the option of continuing homeschool or going back to the private school or public school. She chose public school.

We found a school system, closer to “The Big City,” that we felt would be more diverse than the area schools where we currently lived that also offered a sound education. We moved into a lovely subdivision with a country club name. I foolishly expected educated, accepting neighbors. Because the school was more diverse than the area we last lived, I expected open, accepting students for my daughter to bond with.

Eye-opener #1.

While homeschooling, we saw the movie Mean Girls. We laughed at the over-the-top dramatization of high school life, of a girl assimilating to organized school after being homeschooled. When it was time for my daughter to start school, she jokingly asked if I thought the cafeteria would be like the scene in that movie. Of course not, we laughed.

Eye-opener #2.

And then there were the bus rides home. Sheer torture. Our school system has middle school and high school students riding together in the same bus. My daughter was an 8th grader. She hated it. She begged me to drive her to school. But I wouldn’t. I told her there was good and bad in every situation and she had to figure out a way to deal with the bad. Talk to the bus driver. Sit by the bus driver. Ignore it. Figure out a way to work it out. She wouldn’t tell me exactly what was going on, just that there were some mean girls on the bus that liked to pick on her.

Eye-opener #3.

Our subdivision was large enough that every kid on that bus lived where we did. They were our neighbors. About a month after riding the bus and days coming home with tears in her eyes and then racing to her room and slamming the door, she finally told me what was going on.

Her brothers were about 2 and 3 at the time. #1son is also adopted from Korea and he absolutely idolizes his big sister. Many days, if they heard the bus in time, they would race to the front door and look out the window shouting her name, hopping up and down as she got off the bus. This particular day I could see the agony in her face. Girls were shouting out the window. But as soon as they saw me, they slunk back down in their seats. As she walked up the steps of our front porch she saw the boys. She started to smile but as she opened the door she fell to her knees and clutched #1son and started sobbing.

She said she saw his pure, happy face and she never wanted him to ever have to hear what she was hearing.

That’s when it all came pouring out…

“Chink,” “Gook,” “Got any eggrolls in that backpack?” “I hear Chinese girls like it _______,” “Go back to your real home!” “Are you a Chink or a Jap?”

I. Was. Mortified. I felt like a failure, unable to protect my daughter from such evil. I had told her to ‘just handle it.’ ‘There was good and bad in every situation.’ But this wasn’t just bad. It was pure evil.

I wanted to call the school. Call the bus driver. Intervene in the biggest way possible. Drive her to and from school every day. But my husband, voice of reason, had a better idea. We sat down. We talked to her. We talked about how to cope. How to handle different situations. We talked about what it meant when people acted that way. And then she decided to continue riding the bus. She decided how to handle any future confrontation.

My husband said, “Better this happens now, while she’s living at home, when we can help her deal with prejudice than if we shelter her all her life and then set her loose in an unpredictable world.”

Her new approach worked. A few weeks later, a minute after she got off the bus, a car pulled up in our drive-way. A young boy started walking up our steps. I asked my daughter who it was and she shooed me away and went out onto the porch. They talked for about 30 seconds and she came inside.

“He told his mom what was happening and she made him come over and apologize. He said he was really sorry.”

A day or two after that, an older boy on the bus apologized to her for the other kid’s behavior and how sorry he was for not stopping it. But she didn’t believe him. She told him so. He said he meant it. After that he always sat a few seats away from her. Whenever the “mean girls” would start at it, he’d tell them to stop. One day he even got in their faces with a heated exchange. He was a fairly popular boy with them and they listened. The “teasing” stopped.

I was never bullied. I was never a bullier. But I never leapt to anyone’s defense, either. I never had the courage to step up, as that young man did on the bus. And as I read TKW’s post I thought about the parents of the bullied. How helpless we feel. Shamed. Stunned. Inadequate. Unable to protect our child during every minute of every day.

This event happened in 2006. At a time when I though we, as a nation, were beyond such hatred and ignorance. My sweet #1son is now attending a small, private school with such close supervision and such diversity we haven’t had to address this issue yet. I would hope that by the time he is 14 we won’t have to. He’ll be off to a bigger school by then. But there are no guarantees.

How do I stop it? How do I prepare him? How do I protect him?

And how do I keep myself from these inadequate, shameful feelings?


Filed under parenting, Self Image

A World Where Skin Color Is Of No Consequence

Just a few months after my daughter arrived we were pushing her in a carriage around campus. We lived in faculty housing and happened to run into one of the other instructors at the school. He was an elderly gentleman. Professor of History. He oooed and ahhhed appropriately over our new baby. And then he asked in hushed tones, “Are you going to tell her she’s adopted?”

I had to fight back a smile. My husband stood there looking stunned. The professor waited patiently for an answer.

“I think she’s going to figure that one out,” my husband said.

Our daughter is Asian. We are Caucasian. Yes, it will be obvious to her soon enough.

Privately, my husband commented on what a silly question that was. But I didn’t think so. I think it was a beautiful question. An amazingly beautiful, wonderful question. It meant that he didn’t see color of skin. He saw a precious baby girl. And from his generation, a generation that often didn’t discuss adoption, he wondered if we would. Her skin color was of no consequence. It wasn’t even apparent to him.

THAT’s the kind of world I want to live in. Where skin color is of no consequence. Where we don’t distinguish between brown, black, pink, olive, or white. OR where skin color is mentioned simply as another physical identifier, like eye color or hair color. When my boys were about 3 and 4 years old they would comment, “The boy with the brown skin” or “My skin is lighter than Mommy’s skin.” At first I bristled. How do I tell my boys it’s impolite to point out someone’s skin color? But then I thought, if they said “The girl with the red hair” do I tell them that it’s impolite to notice hair color? So, I let it go. And it became a non-issue.

But what about when we are forced to label ourselves? On a form for college, I was asked to check a box that described my race. The choices were: Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, African-American, other. I choose ‘other.’ It asked me to explain. I wrote: Irish-Scottish-German-French-American but I prefer to be called ‘Euro-American.’ And never mind that there wasn’t a choice to appropriately categorize MY ethnicity – little American mutt that I am – what about the other black cultures out there? Not every black American is from Africa. What about Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, the Middle East? And as my husband pointed out, maybe we should ALL check African-American because, after all, mankind originated from a region in Africa.

How about when we celebrate our skin color publically? African-American Bloggers Conference, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, The Billboard Latin Music Awards, Ku Klux Klan Parade. Oops. That was a bit politically incorrect. Yes, I know the KKK is a hate group. But they are celebrating their skin color. And think about it. If a group of white people get together, excluding all other skin colors – it’s racist. If another skin color group gets together – it’s a celebration. How is that promoting acceptance? It’s exclusionary. It’s preferential. It’s cliquish. It’s wrong.

I’m not perfect. I’ve made judgements based on skin color. I try very hard not to. I fight stereotypes and try to block the thoughts as soon as I notice them. But then there are times when I just don’t like the person. A professor friend of my husband’s once said, “Racism denies me my God-given right to detest the individual.” Sometimes it’s simply the inside of a person we don’t like.

If we are going to preach that ‘what is important is on the inside’ than we have got to stop noticing the outside. Appearances must be a non-issue. And you can’t exclude yourself to celebrate the color of your skin and then come back to the real world and expect to be noticed and valued for your abilities and character only. If you join groups that focus on skin color then expect to be defined by your skin color.  

I want to live in a colorblind world. I want to be valued for my insides. I want my children to simply be noticed as brother and sister, not adopted one and biological one. A world where skin color is just another physical characteristic like short or tall. Racism will simply be an archaic term to describe an unhappier time. No labels. No celebrations based on looks. Please tell me we’re not that far off.


Filed under Be-Causes