I love your black skin. I love your drive, your heart and your passion. But oh how I love the color of your skin. My love is not color blind. I love your color. I respect you. I stand beside you. I hold your black hand in mine and I’m committed to you.
Long before I fell in love with you my blood boiled at any racist comments. “You can’t say that in front of her” they used to say in school. When we started dating, a number of people in our university asked me, “What do your parents think of you dating…” and their voices would trail off like they couldn’t say the words. “A black man?” I asked.“They love him.”
As a surprise to our wedding guests, we danced in our Nigerian outfits. It is tradition for a couple’s clothes to be made from the same cloth, to show that they are one. I pulled that beautiful cloth on to my white skin and I was so proud to show the world that we are one. I’m your teammate for life.
I love your brothers like they are my own. I love your mother for raising you to be such an incredible person. When the nurse at the hospital saw you helping me after I gave birth to our daughter, the nurse said, “Wow you trained him right”. My mom was in the room and turned to the nurse and said, “Oh no he came into our family like that. You can thank his mother for raising him that way.”
I want you to know that I also see the way that you became your own man, the way you relied on God and the way that you turned every obstacle you have faced into an opportunity for personal growth.
You have a way of including and validating everyone in the room. As a grade 8 teacher during Covid-19, I overheard you on the phone telling one of your students that you know has mental health struggles, “I’m going to call you every week to check up on you. You can tell me how you’re feeling.” You look at your students, you look at humans, as whole beings. You care about your students’ mental health, physical health (that’s the soccer coach in you!) and you care about helping them find what their passion is. You encourage them to follow their own dreams, not just their parents’, not just society’s, but their own.
I thought that I knew how much I loved you until you sat me down and told me that you were ready to become a dad. I knew that you would be an exceptional father but my heart wasn’t prepared for the way that you love us so well. We named her Hope. Her first word was “Dad” and you are our everything. She takes one of my hands in her own and one of yours in the other and then motions for us to close the circle and we dance in the kitchen. And just for that moment, everything is right in the world.
Our daughter’s skin is a stunning caramel tone, like the vanilla and chocolate that mixed to create her. Her hair is curly like yours and her smile lights up my life like yours. Everyone tells me that she looks just like you. I love everything about her, just like I love everything about you.
She’s inclusive just like you. I’ll never forget the day that you came home from one of your daddy-daughter times of taking Hope for a walk. You told me that she looked up at the trees in awe and you gave her a leaf to hold. She held on carefully to that leaf for the whole stroll around the neighborhood. Yet when she spotted another child in a stroller, she ripped her leaf in half and reached out as if to hand it to the little boy.
Our daughter is growing up seeing a man support his wife in so many ways. You come with me on photo and video shoots. You encourage me to follow my business and life dreams. I know that you’ll do the same for her. You never make me feel less than. You are my biggest fan and I am yours.
I love you my intelligent, handsome, compassionate black man. I respect you. I am so proud to share this journey of parenthood and of life with you. I recognize that I can never fully understand what you are going through but I am committed to being your ally.
Family photo by Tara Graham.