But something happened last night and I CANNOT shake it. So, here I am to tell you the whole truth.
My little wild family and I sat down last night to watch a family movie. It was naturally Christmas because we are trying to suck every ounce of joy left in 2020.
Several friends had recommended the new Netflix Christmas movie, Jingle Jangle. A sweet movie with a beautiful message, killer songs, and the classic pair of Forest Whitaker and Clair Huxtable (because that’s Phylicia Rashad’s real name).
About halfway into the movie, I couldn’t hold my tongue for one more second so my sweet husband got to hear me rant, and now (you’re welcome) so do you!
Imagine, friends, what it must be like growing up for decades, raising your own kids and grandkids, with the magic of children’s movies and cartoons and musicals when almost zero of them have main characters that look like you.
I’ll let that sit for a minute.
This well-done film with beautiful singing and costumes and a plot something like Willy Wonka and Babes in Toyland had a baby featured an entire cast of African American actors.
Sure, there were different skin tones and a few white backup dancers in some scenes but the cast was predominantly Black.
I sat there watching our wild ones singing and dancing joyfully along, jamming out in our living room, thinking what mamas of color have felt for the last 60+ years of television as they watched their kiddos sing along with Ariel and dance with Elsa.
Did you wonder if it would bother your kids to not see princesses that look like them?
Did you worry they would notice . . . or wouldn’t notice?
Did you long for just one strong female or character with a disability, or black or brown princess or superhero that could make your kid believe that he or she could do anything—BE anything?
I don’t know how this affects you . . . maybe it doesn’t.
But, friends, I have built a life, a career, and a mission on serving the underserved, speaking up for the underrepresented, and advocating for the marginalized.
My classrooms have been filled with students of varying pigments and I’ve solidly been the only white person and you know what I learned?
Every one of us is human and we all long to be seen and loved.
Each of us has been hurt and unfairly mistreated, but not all of us can understand how deeply that is for many.
But we can try.
We can listen.
We can watch.
We can speak up.
And, friend, if this truth makes you uncomfortable, I’m not sorry. This is, at my core, who I am.
I will not be silenced for your comfort.
I will not shut down because of your spewed hate in the comments section.
I will not course-correct because you don’t approve.
But here is what I will do:
I will continue to love fiercely.
I won’t stop seeking justice.
I will never stay silent when the marginalized are not being heard.
Because, if I know anything, it’s that I am called to love in a wild and reckless way.
And it isn’t comfortable.
It’s usually messy.
And when I’m upsetting people, I know I’m doing it right.
Raising an extreme child has taught me that much.
So, white friends, watch the film.
Ask yourself how it feels to not see yourself reflected in the actors.
Allow yourself to wonder how your kids might feel . . . or if it occurs to them.
These paths of thinking are necessary ones.
If you need me, I’ll be over here convincing my kids that they, like me, can change the world . . . not because they are white.
Not because they are male or female.
Not because they are the smartest or savviest.
Not because of anything in them except their ability to love without condition and to be intentional in their thinking, their actions, and their choices to stand up for those sitting alone.