Love Does Conquer All
It might have been the greatest ending to a football game I have ever seen. Remember the Fiesta Bowl game between highly-ranked Oklahoma and upstart Boise State? Maybe you don’t remember the game, but you may remember the ending. Ian Johnson scored the game-winning touchdown — and then scored once again. Moments later, he ran over to his girlfriend-cheerleader Chrissy Popadics, went down on one knee and proposed — and she said yes! It was a moment scene on live TV by viewers nationwide. A real Cinderella story .. but reality threatened to turn this storybook ending into a nightmare.
As you can see, Ian is African-American
and Chrissy is white — and they attend Boise State in Idaho. I do not know if Boise is a racist town, but I do know it’s conservative — and Ian and Chrissy have felt the brunt of that feeling — with as many as 30 letters written to their school and a few phone calls. They voiced their
displeasure — at best — and a few outright threatened the couple. Ian even had to hire extra security for the wedding this past Saturday and that’s quite an expense for a college kid.
I guess I’m sharing this story with you because it hits a nerve close to me. You already know what I look like – and if you have seen any previous blogs relating to my wife, Sharon, you realize she is white ( actually her officially ethnic heritage is Serbian ). It hurts to hear of the slings and arrows thrown Ian and Chrissy’s way because that was my biggest fear when I considered marrying someone outside my race. I feared it would not be easy and we would have to deal with racism and stereotypes from people who are short-sighted and ignorant. I worried that if we chose to have children, they would have to face the dilemma of being a part of two races and perhaps not being fully accepted by either one.
To my surprise, we have faced very little racism. We live where we want to live and have a public marriage and have faced almost no criticism or bias. Of course, there is always the occasional look from people who know Sharon Stockey’s name but do not make the connection to me. That’s OK. I would also not make the connection. Then again, I have always believed that it’s hard enough to find someone to love you – and eliminating a race of people as a possibility is just stupid. I think my life has been enriched because I married someone who brings a whole new dynamic to the relationship.
As for Ian and Chrissy? As you can see, their wedding went off this weekend in Boise without a hitch. They were all smile and excited to begin thier lives together. I wish them not only happiness, but also a life as normal as the one Sharon and I share together. A life where they are treated – and viewed – like every other married couple.
( photos courtesy of AP photo )
Now I may not have proposed on national TV and my wedding went off without incident – in St. Thomas – but