Bipolar Faith: Dealing with Depression and Faith

Bipolar Faith: Dealing with Depression and Faith

In, Bipolar Faith, Dr. Monica A Coleman openly talk about some very personal and intimate details that happened in her life as an evangelical minister.  Such as living with, depression, and also being raped by a fellow minister. She shares how that experience effected her faith and why she was angry with God.

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Bio

Monica A. Coleman is Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware.  She spent over ten years in graduate theological education at Claremont School of Theology and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.  Answering her call to ministry at age 19, Dr. Coleman brings her experiences in evangelical Christianity, black church traditions,  and indigenous spirituality to her discussions of religion. 

Dr. Coleman is the author or editor of six books and several articles that focus on the role of faith in addressing critical social and philosophical issues. Her memoir Bipolar Faith shares her life-long dance with trauma and depression, and how she discovers a new and liberating vision of God. Her book Making a Way Out of No Way is required reading at leading theological schools around the country. Dr. Coleman co-hosts the web series, “Octavia Tried To Tell Us: Parable for Today’s Pandemic.” 

 Dr Coleman speaks widely on mental wellness, navigating change, religious diversity, mental wellness, and religious responses to intimate partner violence. 

Myrna: How you were called into the ministry at an early age? How did your grandfather influenced you in that?

Book Bipolar Faith
Book Bipolar Faith
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RadioPublic Transform your mind

My Bipolar Faith story

Dr Monica: In my book, Bipolar Faith, I tell the story of my great grandfather, my maternal grandmother’s father. Whom I’ve never met of course, and his experience as a black man in a small town in South Carolina.  The story I tell how he decided to hang himself and had one of my great uncle help him to hang himself. My great grandfather asked my great uncle to pull the chair out from underneath him and allow him to hang.

I did not know this story until I was well into my 20s. So, it wasn’t the story that I was told as a child.  Even though many people in the family knew what my grandmother meant when she talked about being orphaned or having her parents die at a very young age.  Her mother died from complications with childbirth. And then she said, six months later, my father died. And so, I understand how she came to that conclusion, that there was this deep sadness that leads this kind of activity.

This was actually just part of my family’s story that was talked about in these metaphorical ways, rather than in more direct ways. So, I think it shaped me in the sense of, there was something in me that knew that you could get so sad you will die.

That deep grief kills.

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Grief and faith

And I think this is a kind of backdrop to a lot of the many other things that I ended up talking about in “Bipolar Faith” as it’s my story.  I am also hoping that other people see themselves in the story in ways in which, poverty and class and war and sharecropping and the effects of slavery and all types of things, contribute to what we would now call, mental illness.

Being black in America, is very complicated. And a lot of times people aren’t stopping to ask “How do you feel?” And so, a big part of this book is really trying to shine a light on, mental illness. Having people ask,

  • How are you doing?
  • How are we feeling?
  • How are you managing these various things that we know that we all manage?

And so, I would say that’s really where I was going to push through and I think it became a part of my calling whether I was not aware of it all.

It is important to talk about these things, whether that’s around issues of, sexual violence, or, domestic violence, or issues around, depression, and, mental health.

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We inherit mental illness from our ancestors

Myrna: This is so true, we inherit the blessing of our ancestors, and we inherit the, curses, of our ancestors.

Dr Monica: I don’t want to quite use that language of, blessings, and, curses. But yes, we inherit what our ancestors have.  We can get the bad stuff and the good stuff, we get the things we would rather live without and we get a lot of their, survival techniques, and their joint, faith, as well. And you know, when I think we you know, so in the fact that we get genetically right isn’t new or knowledge, but the fact that it’s kind of part of who we are and it shapes us and part of our experiences and put up our family stories that we’ve known for a long time.

My great grandfather could have been depressed and that is why he decided to commit suicide, no one was giving a clinical diagnosis of, depression, in that time period.  So, what I want to say  it’s not about checking the boxes and saying that is what he had, because maybe it was the grief of losing his wife and being like oh, my gosh, I have to take care of these eight, nine kids, that’s overwhelmed for anybody plus  sharecropping and, racism. I’m saying I think it’s all of those things. I don’t think you can say, oh, let’s take one out.

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Bipolar faith of Black Women in America

Myrna: I understand the horrible things that our ancestors had to go through.  So, you have something like, mental illness, or, depression, or something like that. But this segues right into the next question I have here. You say that, Black women, we’ve been overlooked, black women, in the United States. What do you think, Black women, have been overlooked?

Dr Monica: I’ve seen things change a lot in the last five years, but for the last five to 10 years, there’s so much more conversation.  I would say, since the COVID pandemic, everybody’s got some kind of, depression. I mean, we think about how we talk about political movements, and the political activism and the voting power of, black women, and the sense that we’re going to hold it all together, we’re going to raise a family, go to work, do all things.

And oh, by the way, while you’re doing that, there’s I think, still is very much expectation that if you’re able to do the things and handle business and make ends meet, that you’re okay or even better, that you’re better than okay that you’re strong.

There’s very much a sense that if you are a person of, faith, then you should be fine. And you should be okay. You shouldn’t have challenges and problems and we have specific expressions that actually imply that.  We all need some help, and I am thrilled to see more of those conversations, but I think they’re still very much sensitive to that.

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Transform Your Mind Amazon

The Superwoman Syndrome and the Black Woman

Myrna: I got to circle back on that the first one was the, Superwoman, tendency of, black women. And you’re right, black women, they’re raising children and a lot of times there’s no man and so they’re holding down two or three jobs and, and they pride themselves on being, Superwoman. In fact, my mom was one of them. She raised four children by herself, had two or three jobs, I came around and did the same thing.  I would say, I can look after my kids, my mom did it, that’s the, Superwoman, tendency that we can do it because we’re strong.

White women, they all have husbands and who may stay home to look after their kids by choice.  The second part of a circle back is that you’re saying that the, superwoman, syndrome creates some kind of, mental illness, and, depression,  they should go to a doctor and get a checkup.  What are you leading to with that?

Dr Monica: My friend and colleague Dr. Chanequa Walker Barnes has written a wonderful book about chocolate the strong black woman is called “Too Heavy A Yoke,” I highly recommend.  Whether it’s legacies of war and poverty, these are also the ways in which black families look on legacies of slavery. And in the United States even the enslavement has manifested in parts of the African diaspora in terms of how families are structured. Even the policies and practices around what family structures look like.

Therapy wasn’t always covered by insurance, but I think it’s getting better. There are more, black therapists, and more culturally competent therapists who will understand all that people are bringing in terms of their racialized and gendered experiences.

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Google Podcast Transform Your Mind

I was raped by a fellow minister

Myrna: In, Bipolar Faith, you kind of cut yourself open and talk about some, some personal issues and personal things and you’re sharing so you can help others. So, you share some very intimate details of your life, such as living with, depression, yourself and also being raped by a fellow minister. How did that experience effect your, faith? Was there a time where you know you’re angry with God?

Dr. Coleman:  I think experiences of deep suffering cause all of us to have, at the very least a hiccup in our, faith, walk. You’re going to have some kind of pain, whether it is the kinds of, traumas, that I discussed. There’s going to be some level of suffering and no one likes it. No one’s ready for it.  Nobody wants to suffer. It’s not a part of the human experience that we’re happy about or that we’re going to welcome and say, hey, let’s have some pain here.

There are levels of grief. That’s all part of our life and because our spirituality and our, faith, is part of our life, it’s part of our, faith, as well. And for some people, faith, is very helpful and instrumental and holding them up and they find great resonance in the, faith community, and a lot of support there. But at some point, people don’t ask why me? Why someone I know and love died? I need some answers here.

Deezer Transform Your Mind Podcast
Deezer Transform Your Mind Podcast

Crisis of Faith

We act like asking why is a problem like it’s a crisis of, bipolar faith, and you’re not supposed to do it? Why do I have to do this? Why is this happening? Why it’s happening to my people? It’s a very natural part of the spiritual life to ask why. I think what doesn’t happen very often is people don’t always say, you’re going to lose the, faith.

And that’s okay. For a lot of times, there’s a sense that losing your, faith, is the end of the world and it is like heresy or some terrible thing.  We’ve all lost, faith, at least once, maybe 2-3-4 times. And it is our responsibility, I would say as a, faith community, to stay with you while you find it again, and to hold the space for you, to walk with you to hold you and bring you food.

Until you and God find your way back to each other or something like that. Because of course we don’t have the same, faith, we had as five-year-olds. We don’t have the same, faith, we had as 15-year-olds, because we’ve seen more and we’ve grown more, we’ve evolved and had different kinds of experiences.

Doesn’t mean I don’t have a relationship with God. I don’t have a, faith community, but that’s not what it looks like anymore. And so yes, it definitely caused me to have some questions and to be angry and to say, what I’ve been taught, is not matching up with what I’m experiencing, and I’m trying to figure this out. So, I kept changing, faith communities, until I found one that was able to hold that space of, faith, for me.

Transform Your Mind Luminary podcast
Transform Your Mind Luminary podcast

Does Depression follow grief

Myrna: So, my circle back to that is when did you become, depressed?

Dr Monica: I really can’t quite pinpoint when did I become depressed or say Oh, well I have this very deep grief, my grandmother died when I was 13 years old. I named it as, depression. You know, my family negative, depression. I didn’t come up in a context where people were like, Let’s label this as, depression. Let’s give you some therapy. That came much later. But that’s how a lot many black families were in the 70s and 80s. No one said, let’s go to therapy like white people do.

Oh, yes, I can look back and say this was, depression. I felt that there were definitely some challenges and hard places in life. That made me sad, but to me, I was like, well, sadness is the appropriate response to some of these things. And I would later have clinicians say, well, most people feel sad in this way and you seem to be sad in a deeper way. And I’m like, oh, because I don’t know most people only know me from the inside.

Transform Your Mind Podcast Player FM
Transform Your Mind Podcast Player FM

Making a Way out of No Way

In many ways, I would say “Making A Way Out Of No Way” is the theory behind, Bipolar Faith.  So, Bipolar Faith, is my story.  It’s the story of my family. And I like to think that there is there’s some gray threads that feel like an African American story, it presents like an American story.  And I think Making A Way Out Of No Way is the belief system that’s behind, Bipolar Faith.  This is what I believe about community, what I believe about salvation and that salvation in the what gets us to heaven.

Salvation is the root word set out to heal, to be evolved and to make us well.  Salvation is what I believe helps us to be whole and helps us to do well. And then it is making a way out of no way.  But it’s really not no way, it’s just a way we can’t see.  And that’s where the God part comes in. It’s, you know, God and hopefully us as you know, as creative people’s humanity and the rest of creation, working together to in the best of worlds to make the world a better place. Transforming creative ways.

Myrna: So that’s great, it’s like, blind faith. Of us knowing that regardless of how bleak it looks right now, that God is going to make a way out of no way tomorrow.  Joy comes in the morning kind of thing kind of thing. So, I like that. So, do you feel that your story and, Bipolar Faith, you said that was the foundational principle? Do you feel that that is how your life progressed, that you had the spiritual power, that propelled you along and God always made a way for you to prosper?

Dr Monica: I’m not even sure if I’m prospering, I think I’m doing meaningful and I would even say needful work. Trying to creatively transform what we got, whatever we’ve inherited, into something better. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it’s this is what we got to work with, to transform what we have into creative ways. To make the world a better place.

Podfriend Transform Your Mind Podcast
Podfriend Transform Your Mind Podcast

Conclusion Bipolar Faith

Myrna: How can people connect with you and pick up copies of, bipolar faith, and other books?

Dr Monica: You can always pick up a copy at www.bipolarfaith.com.  If you go there, you’ll find more than you ever want to know about the book. Find ways to buy it. You can also always call your local bookseller and ask them to order it for you. You can use larger online booksellers, if you prefer. If you go to www.bipolarfaith.com. I do a lot of music in the books. So, you’ll see some playlists there. You’ll see a couple of videos there. You can grab a little bundle I call, behind, bipolar faith, where there’s a workbook available if you want to do this like a reading group, for example.

And you can also hear a couple interviews from a psychiatrist and other, faith leaders, with me about, bipolar faith. You can also go to www.monicaacoleman.com and find more information about me and you can also grab a free devotional. If you go to the homepage, you’ll see a free five-day devotional there. And that’s just my gift to others a little devotional that I use for the spirituality.

Additional Resources

What Are You Patiently Waiting on Almighty God For?

How Women Get a Seat at the Table

Women are you invisible in the boardroom and have no say? Do men listen when you speak? If the answer is no, then find out how to get, a seat at the table.

In this episode I interview Kimberley Bussey Lewis, Author of , A Seat At The Table, Or Part Of The Meal: Creating A Culture Of Diversity

How did you come to become passionate about, diversity and inclusion, for, women of color?

How to Get a Seat at The Table

I first really started thinking about, a seat at the table,  when I was a very young reporter in Charleston, South Carolina.  I was the only female reporter at the time within this 600 person company.  And what I was struck by is that there were so many decisions that were being made that we would complain about; but none of us had, a seat at the table, to help make those decisions.

I realized that if I didn’t have a place in the room that I was both invisible and silent; so it didn’t matter how much I complained or how much I didn’t like what was going on or simply just didn’t understand it because I was not part of the discussion; I needed, a seat at the table.

So that’s where my passion for, diversity and inclusion, was born.

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CNN wrote a column on getting, a seat at the table, for women. They were discussing congresswoman Harris, basically what they’re saying was that women are invisible and they have no say.  When they speak no one listens.  So I understand what you are saying.

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What happens when there is no seat at the table

I stayed in that company as a reporter without, a seat at the table, about 12 years.  It took me that long to get that awakening.  Sometimes we think that we are fortunate to have a job so we don’t want to stir the pot.  I just increasingly became more and more of a little rebel challenging the status quo. Eventually I left  and ventured out to write my first book.   I was scared to death.  Because here I am I’m going to write a book, I’m going to leave my job.  I took a leave of absence to write the book;  but it was really a step of faith and in writing the book and doing the research.

I became energized when I interviewed older relatives, my mother and great-aunt who were already in their 80s and 90s at the time. I  became energized by their tenacity as, Black women. I knew that we had a lot of strong men in my family, but my eyes are really flew open at the strength of the, black women, and how they held businesses up,  they held a family up and the men of the family up, and brought us all together.

I stumbled into the nonprofit arena by my volunteer work. I was volunteering and working on writing the  book and one thing led to another.  I got to a small job at an organization that was run by a, black woman, who became my mentor.  She took me under her wing and even though I was  just volunteering she taught me so much about strength and tenacity and making your voice count.

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Transform Your Mind iHeart Radio
iHeart Radio

Diversity and Inclusion for Women of Color

Her company was called Family Assistance Management Services

And she was the first black female insurance broker in SC. She had been a full time teacher before she built quite a nest egg with her husband. They owned several pieces of property in Charleston SC. She then became a broker and started several businesses, an insurance company, a computer training clinic all kinds of other businesses, because she had a passion for helping people.

You got your feet wet on the nonprofit arena and but it sounds like you have, a seat at the table, at Goodwill Industries. Why you write the book, “A Seat at the Table or a part of the meal?”

I was born in September 1964 a month after the discrimination Act, and my parents had not long moved to Charleston, SC. All of my siblings, I  have one brother and two sisters, they had all been born at home in the country by a midwife so since it was now illegal for place public places to discriminate my father thought, well I will take my wife to this nice Hospital for my fourth child to be born.  So my mother was in labor he rushes her down to this hospital the Medical University of South Carolina and by this time she’d begun to hemorrhage as I was a breech baby.

It was pouring down rain and he got my mom into the emergency area into the lobby and he started screaming for the doctors to come and help they turned looked at them and turned their backs right away.  All the white doctors and nurses ignored them, so he ran up to them and screamed my wife is bleeding you got to help her and someone told him to just sit down we’ll get to you.

So he scooped her up, put her in a wheelchair and ran with her down the street to the black Hospital. McLennan banks Hospital in the pouring rain with my mom gripping for life on that wheelchair.  He pushed her up into the emergency area and as soon as they saw that she was drenched in blood they rushed her into the emergency room and delivered me.  The doctor who delivered me was a, woman of color, from  South Africa and he named me Kimberly after the Kimberly diamond mines.

Black Women are born to be at the table

It sounds like you were born in to do this work!

I was tried of being the only, Black woman, in the room. I felt we as, Black women, have to do something to get , a seat at the table. If anyone was going to wave that flag of, diversity and inclusion, equity and of, diversity, it should be Goodwill Industries. So it really began then.  We started a task force with a group of CEOs and started to study, diversity and inclusion, and equity programs with fortune 500 companies and fortune 100 companies and other nonprofit organizations. We studied who was doing it well, what were they looking at, what were the metrics and how do you build that diverse pipeline.  We came up an implementation plan.

We were really intentional about attracting, maintaining and keeping a, diversity, workforce.  Whether it is individuals who are Hispanic or individuals who African-American or LGTBQ or disabled.  We recognize that all of that build a table of, diversity.

Podbean Transform your Mind Podcast

Podbean

The first time that I heard the phrase, a seat at the table, was from one of my coaching clients and I’ve heard it several times since. I heard Gabrielle Union say it that she’s just gonna make her own table because you know the black actresses in Hollywood are still working to, get a seat at the table.  They go through the same discrimination with, diversity and inclusion.  It’s not just in Corporate America or in the board rooms.

Women of Color getting a seat at the table

Kimberly you have, a seat at the table,  what advice would you give to women who are hitting the glass ceiling and get, no seat at the table.

African-American women unfortunately have been absent from the room!  We have not even been invited into the room much less have, a seat at the table, for quite some time.  Women in general have been hitting the glass ceiling for quite a long time.  I’ve heard that men are hired based on what their hiring manager or that supervisor thinks that they can do while women are hired or promoted based on performance.  it is that way because the majority of the, seats at the table, are already held by men.  Predominantly white males and they look for men who look like act like they came from where they come from.

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Black women in order to get, a seat at the table,  have to do 3 things:

  1. They have to network. It’s all about relationships. Else there is, no seat at the table. Everything that you do is about relationships and it’s about networking.  If you didn’t grow up playing golf, learn.  Go around places and do things that make you feel uncomfortable. But you must be part of the conversation. Go to the theater,  go to the Opera, you could serve as an usher and get free tickets.
  2. Get a mentor – All women should have a mentor.
  3. Get a Sponsor – a sponsor and a mentor are two different people. A mentor is someone that you can talk to about your fears and your aspirations. A mentor can give you sound advice and can talk you through some of the issues that you’re having and help you create a plan a plan of attack.

A sponsor on the other hand is going to be that person who’s going to make sure that you’re invited to that meeting.  They’re going to take you under their wing.  They’re going to make sure that there’s a place for you in the conversation and that there is, diversity and inclusion, that you are a part of the discussion. Sponsors are usually white males.

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Book: Seat at the table

Have you ever wished that you had the information to elevate the conversation at work on how to build a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion?  Well, now you do; with my newly published book A Seat At The Table or Part of the Meal, by Kimberly Bussey Lewis.  This book will give you examples of intentional efforts that will level the playing field and yield dividends for your career and your company. The book can be found on Amazon – A Seat at the Table Or Part of the Meal, by Kimberly Bussey Lewis or on www.motivationalmuse.com, so get your copy today and your seat at the table.

 

Additional Resources, A Seat at the Table

https://blog.myhelps.us/how-transform-your-career-with-purpose/

How to Ask for a Raise or Anything you Want in Life.

What are the, Secrets to Success,? Here are my 10 Secrets

https://www.demos.org/research/taking-our-seat-table-black-women-overcoming-social-exclusion-politics#Black-Women%E2%80%99s-Leadership:-Making-a-Way-out-of-No-Way

https://www.talentintelligence.com/blog/bid/377611/inclusion-and-the-benefits-of-diversity-in-the-workplace

 

Does Love have a Color: The Interracial Marriage Experience

The Happiness Wheel

Not until after we got married Kevin confided and shared with me a few situations where family members questioned his choices and wanted to ensure he understood the challenges that come with an, interracial marriage. Ericka Augutis

I want to invite you guys all to the table. We are going to be talking on the topic the, “The Color of love, interracial marriages, in America”   my guest today is Erica Augustus.

Listen to the interview

Interracial Marriage in America

Ericka and I became friends when we worked at Office Depot for about 10 years, and we have maintained our friendship.  I decided that I wanted to get into the conversation on, interracial marriages, in America because of what’s been happening in the world and specifically in the last month or so.

It’s a very difficult place for a, black woman, married to a, white man. I think it’s even a little bit more complicated when your partner or your spouse cannot understand a lot of the times your, black experience.   I was listening to a podcast a few weeks ago and this, black woman, was talking about her experience.

She was married for 13 years to a, white man, the marriage dissolved not because of racial differences or any kind of racial problems, but she said it contributed to it, because her husband never really got into the conversation.  If she would come home and say she was discriminated against at the office, he didn’t have a response or didn’t talk about it and then the host asked her the question.

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Interracial Marriage black man white woman
Interracial Marriage black man white woman

Can a, white man, love a, black woman, and still be a racist?

And her response was, “love has nothing to do with it”, now that piqued my interest and that’s the predominant reason that I wanted to get into this conversation, and have you guys all join in the conversation and discuss, the color of love.

Interracial Marriage Interview Highlights

    1. How did you and your husband meet?
    2. How Ericka and Kevin handled the stares from Black and White people in their, interracial marriage, when they walked down the street.
    3. What are her thoughts on Systemic racism, did her husband understand her experience as a, Black woman.
    4. Love has no color. How easy is it to love someone from a different race?
    5. How does she and her husband talk to her black sons regarding the police.
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My name is Ericka Augutis, my husband  Kevin and I have been married for 18 years 19 in November.  We do have two children. One is 14 and the other is 4.

We met about 22 years ago. He worked at a local Blockbuster in my neighborhood. He was a manager and anytime I would go into the store to look at videos, he would offer to help me.  Well that’s when our relationship started.  Finally we went on our first date and I have to say it was really awkward for both of us and I thought okay I’m never doing that again. He was super quiet there was very little conversation.  A few months went by and he called again, and asked for a second date and I was going to say no, but my mom chimed in and asked me to give him another chance.  I’m so glad I did that second date because we just had the best time.

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We dated to my dismay for nearly five years,  we were engaged twice. The first proposal I  accepted I was elated.  I was excited to say yes; but a few months later we went to a party with some of our friends and I realized some of the ladies didn’t even know I was engaged. Here I was super excited and some of his circle of friends didn’t know that were engaged. So, it really hit me hard.  I felt like okay I’m really pressuring him into this, interracial  marriage. So I called off the engagement.

After that we kind of went our separate ways for a few months and then we slowly started dating again. And I have to say both of us matured during that time of separation and he proposed a second time in restaurant. He got down on one knee in front of all these people and proposed me a second time. This time he was ready! We got married like a year later.

Myrna Young Did you think that he maybe didn’t want to tell his friends he was engaged because you were a, black woman?

Ericka Augutis No, I don’t think the fact that we were contemplating an, interracial marriage, had anything to do with it, or the, color of love, because I was in his circle of friends for four years. We all vacationed together so it wasn’t that. I just felt like he wasn’t ready and I was forcing him to get married.

Myrna Young I’m going to ask you not a question as a follow-up to that.  So all the time you guys dated, five years or so, you got engaged twice you didn’t see color?  The question today is there a, color of love?  Did any of your friends treated you differently? Or said  Ericka he’s white?  None of his friends says hey Kevin why do you want to marry a, black woman? Nothing?

Ericka Augutis Not until after we got married Kevin confided and shared with me a few situations where family, maybe one or two family members, questioned his choices and wanted to ensure he understood the challenges to come with an, interracial marriage.

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So yes, from my perspective it came later as well, being a successful, black woman,  my parents and other family members wanted to know why I was  dating someone that doesn’t look like me. I really had to kind of ask myself that question as well.  I realized it’s not as if I said to myself,  I’m going to find a Caucasian man and have this, interracial marriage. I fell in love with a white man.

Myrna Young Yea Love is color blind actually, Love is an Emotion, it’s a feeling and it doesn’t see color!

Ericka Augutis There were experiences and times where we had to deal with the looks and the stairs especially when we would go into places where everyone was a little older.  I would say during that time anyone that was over age of 65 would give us those looks on both sides. It’s not just the Caucasian folks, black folks as well.

Myrna Young Did you let the stares and looks bother you?

Ericka Augutis No, Kevin was always so confident and strong and it made me just feel like I had nothing to worry about. But there was this time just after we had our son Kevin Jr,  we were having dinner in this fancy restaurant and this gentleman,  I probably shouldn’t call him a gentleman. A white man,  came over to our table and he said to Kevin, Is this your son? My husband says yes, he says well I’m going to tell you I’m a doctor that’s not your son!

You got to be kidding me!

I am not kidding.  it was such a strange experience. I mean he just came over and I think his goal was just to disturb our night and really rock and test the foundations of our, interracial marriage. That was one experience that I’ll never forget.

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Myrna Young Okay but in your marriage of itself was there any kind of friction at all regarding race?  Was all the friction from outside people looking in and trying to disturb your harmony?  For instance as a, black woman, is it hard to go and talk to a partner that is outside your race about racism that’s been happening to you?  Because, it’s not their experience and they can’t understand it how a, black women, survive in the workplace for instance? As a, black woman, I have not been discriminated against a lot and especially growing up in Canada; but I know that if I was talking to a, black man, who had a white spouse, it would have been a totally different conversation. Because as a, black man, he would have been harassed by the police, he would have been discriminated at work, he would have experienced racism throughout his life. Racism that  his white spouse would not be able to understand or identify.

So, did any of those situations happen in your marriage where your husband couldn’t understand your black experience?

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Ericka Augutis I would say initially when we’re in the newlywed stage, there were a few situations, super minor things, nothing hardcore or anything like that; but I could tell there was an inequality in the situation.  When I  talked about it, he would always ask me why  I was so passionate? That was his word or way of saying, why are you so angry? It took me about three or four times of him saying that or using that phrase for me to get that he’s trying to ask me to express myself and make him understand.  Why was something so small making you angry?  So, once I understood what he was truly trying to say and ask me, we had a tough conversation on racism.

I explained to him  the history black people and the challenges I’ve experienced throughout my career being a, black woman.  I think in his career not everyone knows he’s married to a, black woman; so he would hear things people would say that were borderline racist and he would tell me he got it.

Myrna Young Not only did your husband not understand your black experience but as a, black woman, I didn’t understand my husband’s black experience either. My husband was a police officer and what upset him more than anything else was that he was going out there every night putting his life on the line and yet the white officers were racial against him.  Not just my husband; but they were racist against all the black officers in the department. There was no equality even when they could die together.  My husband would say we bleed the same blood, when we’re out there on the street and I am treated differently. I didn’t understand until recently when I understood the definition of a racist and the definition of racist policies.  I had to go back to him and apologize for not understanding.

That’s basically what I would I wanted to you know.  To find out from you how is the cohesiveness in an, interracial marriage, when one person has white privilege and the other person has to claw their way for everything?

So, the other question I have on here is and I think you mentioned it, people staring at you and I think you said that you felt protected because Kevin was so strong and you weren’t scared; but did it bother you psychologically?

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Ericka Augutis We’ve been married for so long,  I would say it bothered me until we had our son.  A small portion of me would wonder is it worth it?   Is it worth it, why can’t we just go out to dinner and just have a nice dinner without any stares, comments or judgment?  So I would say, yes it does bother you, it does affect you.  You just have to find a way to deal with it and ensure that your relationship is solid enough where it’s worth it.

How does Interracial Marriage affect children?

Myrna Young How does your 14-year-old son, he’s old enough to understand what’ going on right now in the world, how does he relate to having a white dad?

Ericka Augutis Oh, that’s a good question so, he’s actually okay with it. He was in Boy Scouts from the age of I think five or six until 12 years old and I remember we were on a camping trip he may have been 7 or 8 at the time and he came into our tent and I could tell something was wrong.  His face was a little flushed, so I said to him what’s wrong he said this kid asked him why is your dad white and your mom black?

I said, what did you say?  He says I said because they love each other! So I think he’s okay with what’s going on right now.  I did not know how to quite handle it when a child asked him like where is he from? If he was Spanish?  I think that’s he’s at that stage where he’s getting that question and has to figure out how he’s going to handle it and answer it.

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Is there a Color to Love? The Answer is NO.

Myrna Young It sounds like your, interracial marriage, is healthy. You guys don’t see color.  Your, color of love, is blended.  You love your kids, you show them love you don’t show them a difference and that’s definitely the way to go about it.  So your, interracial marriage,  experience has been a good one.  As a, black woman, marrying outside of your race  you still go through get the same racism and racist policies that our, black men, go through on a lesser scale.

That’s basically what I wanted to have a conversation so that we can shed a light on, interracial marriages. I mean we’re looking at black and white but, interracial marriage, can also be Spanish and black or even religion Muslim and Christian or anything that makes you different.  It causes some controversy or cause some friction.

Ericka Augutis I don’t want the podcast listeners thinking I am making, interracial marriage, sound like it’s just perfect.  Absolutely not, there are challenges don’t get me wrong.  When we get invited to parties and there’s only a sprinkle of brown and black people in room, you have to figure out how to navigate.  Do you want to be like over-the-top polished or just be yourself. When our families get together we both have to play roles.  Every day you encounter racism. If you’re dealing with the public or you go in a public space you’re dealing with those types of situations where people are looking people are asking questions so it’s a conversation that you have more often than not. When you’re in a relationship like this, it’s something that you have to deal with if you want it to work out.

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Myrna Young I thank you for coming on and having a seat at this table I appreciate it. I hope our readers and listeners learned a few things one, interracial marriages, can work. They can be successful, you just have to have love and talk about it.

I want to remind you that if you like this content, please share with your friends, subscribe on iTunes rate and leave a review.

Additional Resources and mentions

Paradigm Shifts that can Heal Racism in America

https://blog.myhelps.us/find-your-soulmate-science-of-attraction/

https://voxeu.org/article/incarceration-unemployment-and-black-white-marriage-gap-us