colour me in

I heard a discussion recently on these new emojis that Apple has released that range the full spectrum of racial diversity… well probably not the full spectrum but the fullest you can probably get on a little emoji head.  It was a discussion about how people are “supposed” to use these emjois, are we supposed to be the emoji, or is the emoji the person we are texting, or are we just referring to random people who are just sort of out there and therefore can be any race?
The conversation got really interesting as they continued to reach out to their white friends and ask this question – what emoji choice do you make?  And what does that choice say about you?
I, for one, have always struggle with my racial identity.  Well, almost always.  Being bi-racial in a predominately white world has mostly caused questions in my world, from me and from others.  There came a point where I started to resent the assumption of being white.  I can’t fully explain what that means fully – it probably has something to do with losing my dad, and the idea that identifying as white is in some way forsaking him and his history.
But identifying fully as a Latina, that has it’s baggage too.  It means that I’m shutting down the other half of my family – even though we don’t know our heritage as well on that side of my family.  Add into this midst my internationally adopted goddaughter whom feels more a part of me than anyone I’m blood related to.  I look at pictures of our family and I see a beautiful mosaic.
Represented in our little family are many cultures, many worlds.  And it is so beautiful to me, to us.  We cherish it with open arms and hearts.  We don’t see different races when we look at each other, we just see family.
But outside in the “real world” – the story doesn’t feel as beautiful.  I try to fill out my ethnic background on forms and I find myself asking those same questions.  Please – just give me a bi-racial box.  Give me a Multi-Ethnic option.  And some forms have, to which I am so grateful to proudly check that box.
So when Apple gave us options for emojis, I admit – I was excited.  I wanted something to represent my skin tone better.  And I know that sounds weird.  I know that sounds like I’m putting too much stock into those dumb little cartoons that I use to jazz up my texts…  but in a world where I get asked “what are you?”  Where people look to me to raise my minority flag but also feel free to mock me for liking tacos and salsa.  Where I see my goddaughter mocked for the color of her skin at a young age.  Where I hear her struggle through what it means to be Asian and to be proud of a culture she left at a young age.
In a world where race tensions are still entirely too present, whether purposely malicious or ignorantly neglectful, I sometimes just need a win. I’m not going to say it’s a win for all minorities.  I wouldn’t dream to make an assumption for every person of color.  But for me, a tiny little emoji that gets closer to my brown hair and darker skin, is a win.
This post’s title comes from a Damien Rice song, I discovered it while writing this post and it hit, it hit my heart so hard.  I’m still processing it, but sometimes my struggle with my own racial identity feels like the tension in this song.  I’ve had moments when I feel like I’m trying my hardest to help people see things through my eyes and it ends in pain, when I’ve been looking for Christ’s love in others but when the love of others has let me down.  I’ve often confused it with Christ’s love letting me down.  But I realize his love will never let me down.  But as followers of him, our love lets others down all the time.  We do it wrong.  And I know that I’m called to love others through the tension – but it’s so hard at times.
But I have to keep trying.  To love others through this racial reconciliation journey, and when it’s hard to love, I have to rely on Christ’s love for others through me.  I pray his love can shine through me stronger than my own frustrations.