What the racial injustice movement means to a mixed-race family

The final part in my Half-and-Half series documenting the experience of my interracial family — this time by my white, moderate, conservative husband.

In His Words: Greg – 58

“This is my perspective on being a White man in an interracial marriage and father of two biracial children. But you should know, I am not an activist.

In my adult life, I have approached most things from an intellectual perspective. When I met my wife, her beauty was enhanced by the color of her skin. I married her because I loved her then and I still love her. Regardless of our different races and different life experiences, we have always shared the same faith and values, which is important to both of us. As a side-benefit, I did hope that my interracial marriage would help educate others that White and Black people are equal and should be treated equally.

When my two girls were born, I said, and as I have repeated many times since as they have grown up, that they are part of the answer to solving racism. I know that’s easy to say but I believe it. Just by the example of their lives, I always thought that our biracial daughters would be able to further educate others that the color of one’s skin doesn’t matter to being equal. Unfortunately, other people are being raised or somehow being taught to be racist. I strongly believe that racism is learned, it is not innate.

 From my early days, I’ve developed my knowledge that racism is wrong and that racists, who I detest, have ranged from ignorant individuals to people who wrongfully carry hate towards others in their hearts and minds. While all of that comes from an intellectual perspective, my biggest emotional response is when my wife is scared to drive in the city out of fear of being stopped by the police for “Driving While Black” and my daughters are scared to walk their dogs out of fear of the police stopping them and it escalating into being shot (it happens). Like any spouse or parent, I hurt when they hurt.

I also hurt that my daughters are being conflicted because of others, Blacks and Whites, who want them to pick a more extreme side concerning the current race issues. They should be able to be uniquely biracial, or the best of both races if others have to categorize them. Unfortunately, most people are not that open-minded, and it makes me so sad that my girls have to put up with people who try to make them choose a race.

While I am 100% anti-racism, my wife is perplexed about why my detesting racists and the parental pain I feel for my daughters don’t translate into more anti-racist activism on my part. She doesn’t see, and I don’t always tell her, the many times that I’ve corrected a White family member, friend, or colleague who has made a racist statement. I don’t have anything to do with outright racists, and I would never associate with them, but I do know people that I call latent racist. They don’t think they are racist, but they say things that show me they have learned racism. In my own calm, intellectual way, I try to correct them, and hopefully change the way they think.

My wife doesn’t appreciate the sadness I feel that I am a registered Republican who didn’t vote Republican or Democrat in the last presidential race, although I did vote for the other offices on the ballot. This year, as a registered Republican I will probably vote Democrat for the sake of our country and race relations, and hopefully, Republicans will return to their better values in the future. When the topic comes up amongst my republican friends, I try to explain my thinking in the hope of getting them to change their vote as well. 

So, while I don’t tolerate racism, and I push back against racist comments when I’m confronted, my wife is still surprised I don’t express greater outrage. I try to explain that I’m probably representative of 80% of the White population – the other 10% are activists and 10% actively resist change. I’m one of those White guys who is busy at work; who has spent the past 30 years caring for my family (emotionally and through action); and trying to have some fun with friends along the way.  Bluntly, just different priorities as I don’t feel other’s pain enough.  

When she asks me what would evoke greater outrage and action against racism, not just by me but the rest of the 80%, I tell her what many others have previously said — seeing pain makes you feel the pain. For non-Black people, hearing second or third hand about injustice against Black people or reading about it doesn’t always evoke an emotional reaction as it still seems like a different world. But now, cell phone cameras are like TVs in the 1950s and 1960s which brought evidence of racism and cruelty against Black people, and the resulting civil rights protests, into White people’s living rooms. That then led to gaining the broader population’s support for civil rights. While I don’t want violence to occur against anyone, when it does happen and there is video evidence, then everyone can feel the pain and agree that things need to change.

Seeing the Black Lives Matter protests helps the broader population understand how real racism is and that things have to change. Without the protests, too many people would just go back to their regular lives and not push for change. While I’m not someone who marches in protests (I did one with my wife when we were younger), I encourage others to keep up the peaceful protests until changes happen.

I will take action in my own way, I will vote for those who will make changes to policing rules; those who will provide funding for those who need educational and job opportunities as well as equal healthcare access; and those who promote anti-racism. That’s how I express my anti-racism. Perhaps too calmly, but I’ll speak against racism until the day I die. I’ll love being with my smart gorgeous Black wife and my talented beautiful biracial daughters as long as God will let me. Hopefully, we can set a good example for others.

I’m sorry if that’s not enough.”

Read Part One here I Read Part Two here

Published by Charlene Wheeless, speaker, author, trailblazer. Charlene Wheeless is a renowned communications expert, author and speaker with more than three decades of experience in corporate communications. As a C-suite executive and communicator for more than 20 years, Charlene has lived the experience of being a Black female at large, global organizations. The accumulation of her skills and experiences has positioned her as a cornerstone in ensuring inclusivity and diversity in corporate environments. Today, Wheeless combines her extensive knowledge of leadership and communications, along with her skill in managing adversity to help others learn to retain authenticity in business and in life.

The author and her husband. Photo Credit: Heather Philbin Photography