by Mary Helen Darah

My daughter has been enjoying the company of a young man. He is kind, respectful, intelligent, gainfully employed, and even though he is what I refer to as an “extroverted introvert,” he has a wicked sense of humor that emerges on a regular basis, oh, and he’s black. You wouldn’t think that the pigmentation of his skin would be an issue, but to my dismay, I have been asked, questioned and actually warned about the hue of his epidermis.

Three Dog Night—Not Tone-Deaf in 1974

There are a few people responsible for my child’s lack of concern over her male friend’s skin color. The first being Donald Frazier, retired firefighter, husband, father, and all around good guy, oh, and he’s black. He has been in my children’s lives since day one. He married my lifelong friend Sherri. When I say “lifelong,” I literally mean ‘lifelong.” Our dads’ friendship began in Sunday school and art class back when they were both 7-years-olds and has remained constant for nearly eight decades.

Tissue Paper + Jesus = Lifelong Friends!

We have been sharing family vacations, holidays, and large chunks of memorable life moments since we were infants. Sherri is my north star; my fixed constant I turn to in time of need. Sherri is the second to blame for my child’s lack of concern over skin pigmentation. She is compassionate, an educator extraordinaire, amazing mom, wife … oh, and she’s white.

Not this White

My kids and everyone lucky enough to be in their extended family, have witnessed what it truly means to be in a supportive, mutually nurturing married union through Uncle Donnie and Aunt Sherri. In fact, it was with great pleasure that I threw them a bridal shower that started out as a disastrous chaotic mess and ended up turning into a life lesson.

That’s me!

I must admit, I went a little overboard decorating for the couple’s outdoor garden shower. I had hung so many twinkle lights in my backyard that a small plane could have safely made a landing. Things were looking pretty darn good but my first indication that things were about to head south was with the arrival of the cake. The bakery tried, but did not succeed, in playing up the “shower” theme by putting what were to look like dainty rain drops made of sugar on the cake. Unfortunately, the affect made it look like dried contact lenses were sticking out of the frosting.

These – but all over the cake.

Meanwhile, the brother of the bride decided, after one too many glasses of champagne, to darken the plastic groom with a black Sharpie® that stood on top of the confectionery nightmare, to make it fit the occasion.

Things go bad when combining Sharpies® and alcohol.
Seriously … hide the Sharpies®

It was then that my dear friend whispered in my ear 10 minutes before the guests were to arrive, that her parents and the mother of her future husband had never met. I calmly asked, “NEVER, AS IN NEVER?”


and immediately joined her brother at the champagne table. I barely had time to take a sip of bubbly, when a wind that could have blown Dorothy back to Oz swept across my Martha-wanna-be backyard haven. We all worked together to bring what we could indoors before the lightning started its impressive display that gave my twinkle lights some hefty competition. Having 40 guests now crammed inside should have been the end of the unexpected, but I was wrong. Suddenly, a large flash in the sky followed by a thunderous boom, found us without power and in complete darkness.

Guess where my house is …

It was during that moment in the dark that I saw the light. Even with countless imperfections, I realized that the evening was indeed PERFECT. There is nothing like a little electrical storm to solidify in people’s minds what we already knew. Equality is an electrical outage away. We all weathered the storm together and we certainly didn’t require a flashlight to see the immense love of two people who were meant to share one life.

I know I won’t be able to have the world experience equality during an outage but I could suggest that, like my buddy did recently, get a DNA test. She always identified with her German heritage. She discovered to her surprise, that she is not German at all but Scandinavian, more specifically Viking, suggesting that her ancestors did not reside in Germany but perhaps pillaged it.

Yes, this is a thing.

Another friend thought she was 100 percent African. She was amazed to discover that Nigeria was evident in her results but the largest percentage of ancestral DNA was European. The next time I am on the receiving end of “race inquiries” regarding my daughter’s friend, I can confidently answer that he is a member of the one race that truly matters and that we are all a part of … the HUMAN one.

One Race Human Afrika-Karibik festival logo

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