By: Dan Cruver, Together for Adoption
She asked my son an honest question, and he gave her a surprising answer: ”Noah, why is your mommy white?”
As I’ve written about before on this blog, my family is multi-ethnic. Melissa and I are White, our daughter is White, and our two sons are Black. We live in a fairly racially diverse neighborhood (Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics), and our children attend racially diverse schools.
My youngest (pictured below) was asked the above question a year ago when he was in 2nd grade. He was 7 years old. My wife was volunteering in the classroom that day. One of my son’s Black classmates heard him call this visiting White woman “Mommy.” So, she quite understandably asked him what she was wondering, “Noah, why is your mommy White?”
Noah’s answer was immediate and matter-of-fact. He simply replied (actually, not so simply), “That’s not a question that Martin Luther King, Jr. would ask. It’s the content of your character that matters, not the color of your skin.” Wow.
Where’d that come from?
My 7 year old son could have simply answered, “Well, I was adopted by a White family. My parents are White, my sister is White, and my brother and I are Black.” That’s basically what Noah’s teacher was expecting him to say. What he did say, though, revealed that he was living within a much larger narrative—within the same basic narrative in which Martin Luther King, Jr. lived.
The month before, Noah’s class had studied Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life. Martin Luther King’s story so gripped Noah that he began to think about life differently, more deeply.
My son reminded me something profound that day. He was the teacher and I was the student.
We have been given larger narratives in which to live, narratives that have the power to transform the way we think, talk, and live. Unknown to me (and his classmate), Noah had begun living within a larger narrative that was changing the way he viewed the world in which he lived. Martin Luther King’s story was changing the way Noah thought about race relations on a very practical level. That day Noah reminded me that the narratives we live by really matters—a lot.
Since that day a little over a year ago, I have thought a good bit about how the mega-narrative of God’s work of adoption within human history should change the way I think and live each day. Thank you, Noah, for reminding me of living within the right narratives.