Jennifer, Los Angeles, CA
On Valentine's Day when she was 17 Jennifer gave all her best guy friends cards and roses. It was really just an excuse to give a card and rose to one specific guy, one of her closest friends since Freshman year. The two of them hung out all the time, were in the same youth group, played sports together, everything. On this particular Valentine's Day Jennifer had finally decided to muster up the courage to tell him that she 'liked' him. As she tells the story, my own body shivers with knowing. As he drives her home, Jennifer opens her mouth to say the words. But before she can speak he says, 'my parents don't believe in interracial relationships.' He says it again. She fumbles for the car door, gets out, then slips on the icy driveway as she tries to make it to her front porch. "I start banging on the door, trying desperately to hold back tears. My cousin finally answers and I start hysterically crying as I make my way upstairs. All I kept thinking was, 'does everyone know this but me??" In the days that follow Jennifer refuses his calls. "I was SO ANGRY. I couldn't believe that his parents were judging me by my skin color even though we went to the same youth group, had gone on mission trips, etc. I was so pissed." She tells her youth pastor. He says, 'I know,' then she tells her best friend. She says, 'yeah, I know too, I just didn't want to hurt your feelings.' Everybody had known.
Some time later, the boy, the friend, the now stranger, shows up at her house and apologizes. It doesn't matter. "My heart was so broken. I was changed.” She sees his dad at the youth center, he was a deacon at the church. "I look him straight in the eyes because I knew he knew I knew. He reaches out to touch my arm and I jerk it back and run outside. I never went back.” Jennifer glances down at the table then looks back up at me as she continues. “ I knew then that it didn't matter how many good deeds I did, or how good a person I was, that to them I would always be less than."
She decides to call his dad and ask, 'Why don't you think I'm good enough for your son?’ He says, 'Because if you two have kids they'll have a hard time.’ She says, 'Yeah, because of people like you.’ After that she decides to do her own thing, to find out who she is regardless of race or religion.
"Being mixed helped me find my voice."
"My advice to parents? Even though you want to protect their innocence, give your kids a heads up that people can be mean and ignorant. If someone would have told me, maybe my heart wouldn't have been so broken."
Jennifer currently lives in LA, CA.