Have you ever been subjected to discrimination? Intolerance? Racism? How about racism within your own family?
This is the inspiring story of a woman who faced racism within her own racially blended family, and turned her pain into something beautiful.
By Robin Melvin
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
“The Color Love” is an idea that originated from bigotry, ignorance and hatred, but is growing into a place of love, compassion and understanding.
My youngest son was the result of a relationship that didn’t work out. It was never serious enough for my other kids to have met his genetic father, and since he has never been in the picture as a dad, they had no clue that their brother was bi-racial. They just loved him for who he was – an amazing, beautiful gift, and their brother in every sense of the word.
But not everyone sees it that way. Even today, many people are still blinded by differences like race, unable to see the common humanity in each of us. I have often been called a bad mom for giving my three “white” children a “black” brother. But a line was crossed when one of my children was told by a family member (someone she loves dearly and looks up to) that colors shouldn’t mix, and that if she ever married a black man, they would never speak to her again.
I was absolutely devastated to see that this type of bigotry and ignorance still exists in today’s society. While my immediate instinct was to cut off contact, in reality, that move would devastate my daughter. Mama Bear kicks in and makes me want to knock some heads together. As a single parent to my biracial son, I feel doubly protective over him. I am the only one present to protect him from any hurt the world may hurl at him. I was so hurt, not only to be attacked on such a personal level, but at the thought of my children thinking there was something wrong with their brother, or with their friends of different nationalities. I was devastated to think that with so many complex and important issues in the world today, there are still those who would impose such narrow-minded views on her impressionable young mind.
We spend enough time as grown-ups pondering the inequities of life – shame on anyone who makes a child consider such questions!
Worst of all, this made me realize that someday my baby may be subjected to the same vile words and made to feel inferior because of his beautiful brown skin.
The only way I knew how to deal with this situation with my children was with honesty and love. My temporary answer was to have a conversation with my children about what the word “character” means. I explained that outward appearance means nothing when it comes to matters of morality, beliefs or personality. I told my children that as they grow, they will know when they meet a genuinely kind-hearted and good person, and to value them and hold on to them regardless of their appearance. I promised to celebrate any friendships or relationships they form, and that if they are lucky enough to find someone special who loves them and treats them well, has good morals and values – that I will support them 100%.
I also told the person who made the statements to my daughter about the conversation that I had with her, and that I will not tolerate any more comments like that. We’ll see where it goes from here.
It was a hard discussion to have with my children, to discuss issues of that gravity. It brought up discussions of relationships, abortion, religion and race. Ultimately, this open dialogue was a positive learning experience for my children, and myself, but I also wanted to do something about the wider problem. I vowed to do what I could to spread acceptance and love – and the idea for “The Color Love” was born.
The Melting Pot
In my experience, many people who are racist, sexist or homophobic cannot conceive that their views might be wrong. They feel like their hatred is warranted, and either justify their beliefs as “God’s will” or find no need to justify them at all. And that makes for a very dangerous influence. Thankfully, human beings can change.
Before I had kids, I used to believe that same sex couples should not have children, mainly because I felt the children would be bullied. As I had my own children and met other families, I have changed my opinion on that. I now realize that a “traditional” family setting does not always mean a child has a loving home. If anything, same sex couples have to go to extra lengths to have children if they desire to do so, meaning that their children are always wanted and conceived intentionally. More importantly, I have come to realize that any child who is loved, taken care of and brought up with solid values is extremely lucky, regardless of who their family unit consists of. And I am ashamed to have ever looked at it any other way. If a child is bullied, it is the bully who needs to change, not the child.
These days I often hear people say that our world is becoming a melting pot. And I love that! But it isn’t new. It’s common to see siblings who inherit totally different characteristics from their families, even in strictly two-parent families. Personally, I am American Indian and German. I have three siblings and between the four of us there are brown eyes, green eyes and blue eyes… Red hair, blond hair, brown hair and black hair… Fair skin and olive complexions. Physically, my own children are just as varied – and they are beautiful together.
The Color Love
In honour of my beautiful children, my aim was to build a community that promotes justice and the acceptance of individuals based solely on the content of their character. “The Color Love” is a place that embraces everyone, regardless of race, age, religion or sexual orientation; a type of safe haven where ideas and experiences can be openly shared, free from bullying or prejudice. We share inspiring information and quotes, engage in discussions, ask questions and share thoughts. It has become a place of hope, acceptance, understanding and support, a place to celebrate our differences and learn from each other — and my children too.
My aim is also to understand what motivates others to judge or be cruel to others, because I truly don’t understand it. Since racism is irrational, perhaps they don’t even understand it themselves. But I believe that recognizing and understanding our weaknesses ultimately leads to strength, so uncovering and addressing the hidden fears that drive such intolerance in our community is vital.
Since launching The Color Love, I have received so many messages from people who have gone through similar ordeals and are thankful to know they are not alone, and it is my hope that our community and its positive effect keeps on growing each day. I never want my children to feel like they are less than anyone else, and I never want your children to feel that way either. I believe that love will prevail, and that someday we can be free of being judged on anything but the content of our character.
The Color Love is a place for people of any color – white, black, asian, hispanic, and anything in between. It is for people who have experienced judgement due to any circumstance – age, religious background, financial standing, disability, sexual orientation, body image, or any other reason. It is for parents of special needs children who feel misunderstood or alone, and for teens who are teased or bullied. This community is about One Color: Love. And it’s a color we all look great in!
If you would like to join a community built on respect for our racial, cultural and individual diversity, please feel free to visit us at the Color Of Love.
Facebook : facebook.com/thecolorlove
“The just man is not the product of a day but of a long, brooding and a painful birth. To become a power for peace, a man must… have a wide horizon and breathe various atmospheres; he must acquire the faculty putting himself in the place of others and appreciating them.” ~ Charles Wagner
About the author:
Robin Melvin has been a firefighter for over 13 years for the second largest city in New England, and is a single mom to 4 amazing children, ages 10, 8, 2 and 8 months. She has been a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, settling in Cherry Valley with her kids 8 years ago. While her children and work are the love of her life, she feels extremely passionate about ending injustice and promoting tolerance and equality in the world she is raising her children in.
Connect with Robin and The Color Love Community:~
Facebook : facebook.com/thecolorlove