I bought this angel at a church Christmas Bazaar ten years ago when I knew that black lives mattered and that Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds were in fact Middle Eastern, not white-skinned Europeans, and yet except for Balthazar, the black king of Ethiopia aka the three wise men, all of the figures in all of our Christmas decorations, be they human or angels were white. Really. In fact in my 72 years on this planet I recall having seen a nativity set where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were of the tawny to dark brown complexion typical of Middle Easterners only a few times.
I bought this angel at a church Christmas Bazaar ten years ago because my awareness had deepened in a beautiful, celebratory way with the launching of my sister’s book, Talking About Race: A Workbook About White People Fostering Racial Equality in Their Lives. It’s well-written and certainly challenging, but in a gentle way, conducive to healing, and it’s filled with wisdom distilled from her lived experience of having been married to a black man, of being mother of two biracial children, and many other experiences described in her book and on her website www.ltar.biz.
My sister and I were the two girl children in our family of origin, with two brothers – one older; one younger – and she too, was younger than I. She had beautiful curly blonde hair; I, straight brown hair. She had a penchant for getting into trouble; my orientation leaned into being a good girl; responsible. She didn’t like dolls; I loved them, especially baby dolls, up into the fifth grade. But I do remember one Christmas when my sister wanted a baby doll, a black one. We lived in a white section of Park Slope, Brooklyn, all of our extended family were white, and all of our family’s friends were white, too. Surrounded by all of that Caucasian skin, how did my little girl sister learn that black lives mattered? I don’t know, but Santa Claus did give her that black baby doll and she loved it with all her heart. On some deep, intuitive level did my little sister know what her mission in life would be, and was she preparing for it? I sure don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know how much black lives still matter to her, and I’m grateful to her for sharing her gifts – the gifts involved in raising our awareness about the complicated deeply-embedded traumas of racism, and gently guiding us into and through the long and arduous path to healing. Amen.