Straddling Two Worlds

We straddle two worlds.

We can’t ignore either one.

We can’t turn our backs on either one.

It’s a struggle we expected but it has boiled over to be much bigger than we expected.

How do we balance the two?

God put us where we are, because He wants us where we are. But we can’t understand why.

Rather than growing up in a middle class suburb, why didn’t I grow up in the middle of rural Africa?

Rather than attending a Christian private school, why didn’t I have to attend a struggling inner city school where the graduation rate wasn’t nearly as high as the incarceration rate?

Why did I grow up with an active, loving and engaged dad when so many grow up never knowing their dad?

Why could I walk from home to school and back without being afraid of being mugged or accosted by a homeless person?


But I’ve seen glimpses of the other side. The other world.

I’ve seen black boys struggling for survival in the streets of Haiti.

I’ve talked to a teacher who has lost 5 of her students to gang warfare before they would have graduated from high school.

I’ve heard stories of black men – well educated, articulate speakers tell stories of being pulled over by cops and having their entire car searched – because they have had a tail light out. Oh and this wasn’t a story on the news, this was at a local church’s service of racial reconciliation. It.Happened.In.West.Michigan.

We straddle both worlds.

I am not a black man. I am a white man. But my son is growing closer and closer to becoming a black man.

I straddle both worlds.

I’m not part of “that world” but I am part of that world.

I hate that I have to tell my son to be careful where he wears the hood on his sweatshirt “up.”

I hate that people I care about still suffer from the scars that are still there from years and years of oppression.

I “get” that people in Baltimore and other places rioted because they lost hope. They reached the snapping point and blew up. How many of us haven’t done that on a smaller scale with our kids?

But I hate that it has to happen. I don’t want it to happen.

And it hurts that there are people I know and care about who don’t see that part of the world.

Who move around and live their lives enjoying the benefits of their middle class life with their middle class upbringing.

Who consider the plight of those who have lost hope as something that is “their fault.”

And it hurts that really good people who put their lives on the line to keep us safe are being “blamed” for the overreactions that others have had to those who lost hope.

When I signed on to being a transracial adoptive parent, I signed on to straddling those two worlds.

And I will.

But the wounds that are showing up are so much deeper and harder to straddle.

This is not the way that Jesus would want it.

And it’s up to all of us to do something about it.

Restore hope.

Restore dignity.

Rebuild understanding and acceptance.

Don’t make the world color blind – because that attempts to ignore the basics of who someone is. Instead, make the world color filled.

Celebrate the differences but work towards acknowledging the value and the worth of everyone.

Whether they grew up with two parents in a white suburb.

Or a homeless street child in the slums of big city America.

People, please, we have to do better.

All of God’s children deserve better.

All of them.


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