This category – Overlapping Worlds – is, admittedly, not a typical topic for a lifestyle blog. And yet, I felt particularly compelled to include it for a couple of reasons. First, it is quite simply an integral part of my day to day life (as is the case for many other folks as well, for all sorts of reasons and in all sorts of ways). Two, our country is struggling quite a bit in this area, whether it be in the realm of individuals of different races interacting (or avoiding one another), or people of different political persuasions, religions or even socioeconomic statuses coming into contact in either productive or harmful ways.
So what, exactly, do we mean by this area of ‘Overlapping Worlds’? What we aim to think about here is diversity – in all of its beauty, challenges and forms. We want to look at the benefits of individuals with vastly different life experiences engaging with one another on a personal level, and we also want to be honest and open about the great difficulties such relationships pose as well.
As alluded to above, this is quite personal to me. I’m married to a black immigrant, and we have a biracial daughter (I’m white). My husband and I have spent countless hours over the past year discussing how we are going to raise our baby girl in the current national climate – how we want her to have the presence of mind and strength to stand firmly and vehemently against any and all forms of oppression; but how we also want her to learn to love, and to forgive – even in the face of hate.
There are so many thoughts and emotions I’ll expound upon in posts on this page as we move along, and it feels quite unfinished to mention little nuggets of things here and to leave them undeveloped – so for now I’ll dive ever so slightly into just one: my marriage.
As more national attention has been granted in recent years to the atrocities endured by the black community at the hands of law enforcement, my anxiety for the well-being of my husband has increased in direct proportion to the amount of black men that have been killed by cops with impunity. It’s quite unsettling, to put it lightly. And yet, about a month or so ago I realized something – I had started holding his hand more when we were walking, enjoying the little moments of our days together even more than I had before, taking full advantage of his presence, always… because I have learned that in this country the life and safety of a black man cannot be taken for granted. That fact fills me with a blind rage that sometimes blocks any ability to see or think clearly in the midst of all of this; it frightens me – as it would anyone whose spouse were faced with the very real possibility of an untimely death at the hands of agents tasked to protect; it saddens me, for quite obvious reasons, on behalf of the entire black community; it emboldens me to fight for change; and it breaks me when the weight of this emotion rests its full force on my heart and mind at various, unexpected moments.
And yet, it has changed me – it has, to borrow (and twist a bit) the concept of Tim McGraw – taught me to live like my husband is dying. I don’t say this to be overly dramatic, but rather to point out the beauty and joy that facing racial injustice has fueled into our marriage – when faced with this larger challenge that we cannot, ultimately, control, we’ve learned to simply rest and find joy in the moments that we can control. We can choose to let little annoyances slide by unmentioned; we can choose to cuddle on the couch and simply watch our little girl play on a Sunday afternoon; we can choose to compliment one another and express our love more frequently than our frustrations; and we can choose to deal kindly and respectfully with those frustrations when they do need to be addressed. And now, more often than not, we do.
In short, as I’ve come to grips with the reality of racial injustice faced by my husband – a concept he’s far more used to, and has learned to shoulder with much more grace and wisdom than I – it’s changed our marriage, for the better. As I sit in the reality that his life is not as safe and secure as it would be were he a white male, I rest in a space that allows me to focus more fully on all of the good in him, and in us – as I’ve spent countless hours focusing on that good in the context of worrying that at some moment it might all be unexpectedly, unjustly and violently wiped away.
We are – my husband and I – resting contentedly in the former, praying to never see the latter, and living in solidarity with any and all who are also enjoying the beautiful mess found in overlapping worlds.
Let me pause to note a few things I am not saying – I am certainly not saying I know what it is like to have a loved one facing a terminal illness, because I don’t – and I absolutely don’t mean to compare this situation to such a tragedy. I also am not saying that the above realization makes racial injustice ok, or that it even means I, as a white woman, have a full grasp on it (or ever will). And, I do not mean to make light of the very real pain that comes with it, by pointing out the silver lining we’ve found as detailed above.
Thanks to all for your patience with me in this post and the ones to come, as I know my words and thoughts will neither be perfect nor fully representative of all who have thoughts and experiences in the areas touched on in this page. And, to that end, and to all readers – What are your experiences with overlapping worlds? How have they been challenging? How have they been beautiful, joyful or fulfilling? We’d love to hear you share.