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Has the world changed enough?

There are a million things I worry about when it comes to becoming a parent, and one thing that’s constantly looming in the back of my mind is the issue of race.

I’m black, my husband is white. In this day and age I like to think that won't be as big of an issue as it was in years past but every now and then I wonder.

I grew up in the South. I never thought I was very pretty, but I thought my personality outshined my looks. When I turned 16 I was so excited for the doors of dating to open. I imagine every girl can’t wait until she goes on her first date after turning 16, but for me that didn’t come for quite some time.

In my ward none of the young men asked me out. Older women told me it was because they were intimidated. "You're so beautiful," they'd tell me. But deep down I felt I knew the real reason why.

It didn’t stop at non-existent dates either. At stake dances I usually did all of the asking. I never thought much of it since I was the one with the outgoing personality, but looking back something was... Off.

I remember one guy who was blatantly racist. I’m not sure why, but one of my best friends dated him on and off for a few months. He wore a confederate flag ring on one of his fingers. He also frequently wore T-shirts with confederate flags printed on them... As if he wanted to scream to the world he was a bigot.

He liked me... As in, I was his girlfriend's best friend so he would put up with me, talk to me and occasionally dance with me probably just to make her happy. "Black people are 'this or that,'" he'd say. "But you're different."

What do you mean I'm different? I don't use “urban slang” or wear saggy jeans? Hello, that's called a stereotype, not a formula for defining an entire race.

I had a crush on one guy in my high school for years. We were very close friends. I set him up with numerous dates with my other friends and we could tell each other anything. He wanted a girlfriend--I wanted to be his girlfriend. But one day after school he told me why that wasn't possible. "Because you're black," he told me point blank. It was like a punch to my stomach, and I felt it.

I don’t look back at these circumstances and think "Oooh poor me," because as I grew up through the years I interacted with and dated all types of men, and all of the things that pushed me down eventually brought me back up more confidant and stronger than ever. Eventually, I found "the one" for me, and he happens to be white.

My husband and I share the exact same beliefs as far as today’s apparent racial issues are concerned. He doesn't pretend to understand what I've gone through, but he knows it's out there. Neither of us can stand racism and we've learned to stand together as a team and defend our relationship when necessary. We share the same religious beliefs, cultural beliefs and most importantly... Music taste.

Sadly, in our four years of marriage we have witnessed racial divisions first-hand. We hardly notice the stares now… We’re used to it.

The LDS church does have a dirty history when it comes to Blacks. I don't understand all of it; I don’t think anyone on this earth does. People can say what they want about us as a couple but we know if we were able to get married in an LDS temple and receive those blessings, then our relationship, our marriage IS ok.

At BYU, in my LDS Marriage and Family class, the book stated that they “recommend” you date and marry inside your race.—Oops, it was too late for us. But I feel sorry for people who let that stop them from being open minded. Obviously my husband and I didn't care about that lesson because we're married today. However, I do worry for my children. We won't teach our children that "recommendation". Not only would that be hypocritical, but wrong in my opinion. Besides, if that’s how it was supposed to be who is an interracial child to date? Only interracial people?

I worry especially that my daughters will face the same challenges I faced growing up, but won't deal with it as I did. I was able to brush it off my shoulder while some other black women hold a grudge, or get very upset. I can't completely put myself in their boat because I did meet my husband while attending a "Mormon college", and married him six months later. I didn't know it then, but I was an extreme minority.

I worry my sons will have a hard time finding women to date because their parents don't want their daughter "dating a black boy."

I know many LDS parents who have adopted children outside of their race. I sometimes worry not everyone knows some of the challenges they’re getting into. I have experienced racism first hand, and I expect my children will experience it, in different ways yes, but I’ll be able to empathize with them.

People say things have changed—Things will change. I pray that’s the case, and by the time I have children, and they grow old enough to date, I’ll be singing a different tune.

I hope as our children grow up they meet other children who are taught to have friends of all races, and date people of all nationalities.

Religion, career, personality... Those are all things you can choose. You're born your race.

I don't want my children to grow up wishing they looked "more like daddy" or like their white friends. I worry society will make them want that. I want them to be proud of who they are, and proud to be brown—Proud to look like both parents. Most of all, I hope others around us are accepting and open minded enough to see people for more than just the color of their skin.

Jennifer Johnson, aka Future Mama, doesn’t believe you have to be a mom to be a mom blogger these days. She wants a baby, and then maybe wants a baby, and then definitely sort of wants a baby NOW! Married four years, with a successful journalism career under her belt, she's already accomplished more than most 23 year-olds. Just no baby...yet. She's an open book when it comes to what's on her mind during her journey towards the inevitable baby bump, and she chronicles her voyage on her blog Baby Makin(g) Machine.

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