MaryBeth Langhans is a friend of the Gumbo Square Band, and creative artist, singer and cook. When we asked her if she would consider writing a piece for us on her experiences with racism, it took a while for her to accept. Her own history is full of rejection, tears and heartache. But, it’s also filled with love, beauty and joy through her faith. After thinking about it, she realised that she would be an experienced voice to speak to our readers about her own memories of being a recipient of the dark side of human nature. Seeing it from the hand of someone who has been there, she might make a difference by hopefully opening the eyes of those who are blind to it……
To read what MaryBeth has to say…………..
Racism, you would think, would be history in this day and age. I can assure you it’s not.
I grew up in a white family. My father was black, but my mother didn’t privy me to that information until I was in high school. I never really thought about it, but others did. The kids at school were mean about the color of my skin. I grew up in the projects so the black kids were even meaner. But the group that revealed themselves as even more cruel, but didn’t see it, was my family. My aunt, my mother’s sister, would say things like “your mother should have put you up for adoption.” Her husband didn’t allow her to come to my wedding because my husband-to-be was black. At one point, I worked in the same building as my uncle and he told my aunt to tell me not to tell anyone that I was related to him. Those kind of comments hurt me more than anything, because this was my family, and they were ashamed of me because of the color of my skin.
When I became an adult, I was naïve enough to think that racism had diminished. That the human race was better than that. That the color of your skin was just that, a color. But I was terribly wrong, and found that to not be true when I had my children.
Not only was I looked at and treated differently by both white and black people, my children were looked at differently as well. Each one of my children are a different skin tone, but beautiful none the less. I have been questioned numerous times about Michaella being my daughter because she is dark, like her father. Shelbi and Hayli are both darker than me, and again, people question them being my children.
Being of mixed race is a blessing and a curse.
The blessing is that because of my African American heritage, I have wonderful skin. However, the curse would be that I’m not black enough for most black people, women especially, and not white enough for white people. It’s a no-win situation. None of my cousins talk or visit me. They have never really cared much for me because I am a black child, invading their white family. It always hurt my heart to not be accepted. Not by the kids at school, or by my mother’s family. I did not know my father’s family.
I have learned what family actually means.
The color of anyone’s skin has absolutely nothing to do with your heart. Everyone’s heart is the same color. I have very close friends that I refer to as family because they have the biggest, most loving hearts. They pray for me and with me, they stand by me in difficult times, and they love me just because I’m me.