She tells me that he makes her laugh. That he works hard at school and is kind to people. She tells me that he is popular and likes her too. She tells me that they once held hands on a dare. She has imaginary phone conversations with Rob at night. She talks about Rob until I quit listening.
One day she took a picture of Rob to show me. I saw a huge smile lighting up a dark little face. I felt a jolt of shock and that shock haunted me. Why did I react that way? If she brought home a black boyfriend, I would judge him the same as a white boyfriend. If he was good to her, would help her build a good life, I would embrace him. And yet, faced with this innocent, beautiful face, I felt surprised.
I thought on this a long time. Here's the honest deal. If I was describing a black person, the color of their skin would be in my description. Physical descriptions always come up when adults talk. To her, it didn't matter. Not one bit. What mattered was that he was funny, he was hard working and he liked her back. It didn't matter if he was black or white, short or tall, had brown eyes or blue. That's a beautiful thing.
Another honest confession, we subconsciously associate certain words with race. "Rob" sounds like a white name. Hard working, kind, and popular do not bring to my mind a black boy. Ouch. I need to work on that. It's wrong and I know it. It's a painful fact to recognize in myself.
My daughter, she's better than me. She sees with clear eyes and a loving heart. America has had a tough year for race relations. It's inspiring and exciting to think that our children might be able to do better than we did. That they might be able to see each other beyond the surface. This crush is insignificant in the face of centuries of social injustice, but it just might be a sign of better tomorrow.