Friday, January 23, 2009

History Lesson

Because their banker father was home last Monday, Mary and Kate knew it was a holiday. We're honoring the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. was not enough, who was he, what did he do, was he a President?

Mary and Kate don't know Cinderella, they don't know Barney and they don't know racism. Teaching them about MLK opens a door to something they don't know exists. Growing up in a diverse urban neighborhood they are very aware of differences in appearance; Melvin has dark brown skin, Balbina has light brown skin, and they have white skin, but they have no idea that those simple differences create a deep divide amongst many. Variations in skin color are a way to describe one's appearance, nothing more. When they told me there was a new boy in their class with brown skin it was simply telling me what the new student looked like. Overheard, a comment like that, sadly, could be misconstrued, years of assumption outweighing four years of observation.

We celebrated on inauguration day, not for the historical significance of the day, but with great excitement and joy at the transfer of power to a new and young President. They don't know that President Obama is the first person with non white skin to be President, nor do the care. Much in the way that I hate to tell them that women were not allowed to vote less than 100 years ago, I hate for them to know that electing this man as President is monumental beyond his qualifications.

Someday they will learn about Cinderella, that there are women who wait for their prince to come, and someday they will learn that Martin Luther King was more than a great man who inspired people, but for now they live with the wonderful naivete that skin color is really just that, the color of ones skin.

"Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a 2-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps. End of list." Denis Leary

1 comment:

BonjourBruxelles said...

Brilliant post, Ally. It's the very reason we're raising our kids in the city - no yard, no garage but loads of diversity, which is how are world really is.


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