February 14, 2015 1 Comment
Being the parent of a Black child means I have to talk to her about some things more intentionally & earlier than I did with my big kids. With Ponyboy & Jasmine, I didn’t have to teach them about racism, about our country’s ugly history, about Native American genocide, about segregation before it came up in school.
(actually, i DID have to, i just didn’t know it)
For Martin Luther King Day, Addis’ Kindergarten teacher read the class a book about MLK. When I picked her up that day, the teacher grabbed me & told me that Addis was the only student who knew who he was & what he did, & she shared what she knew (beaming with pride). Of course, she is the only non-blonde child in the class.
(maybe i’m exaggerating here, there may be a few non-blondes. but you know, alll those white kids look the same)
It started almost TWO YEARS ago when she was racially attacked (https://peanutbutterinjerasandwiches.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/my-kids-not-racist/) I realized that I needed to teach her about racism so that she knew it when she saw it. So that people couldn’t use words against her, so that she would really know what was going on when ugly people belittled her…I already *knew* this, I just didn’t know that I’d have to start it so early in her life. I didn’t know people were racist against beautiful 3 yr old girls.
So I had to teach her about our ugly past (and present). We started way back in the Old Testament, with the Egyptians enslaving the Hebrews. We talked about The institution of African Slavery in the Americas. The American Civil War took place because enough people found slavery abhorrent & wanted it to end. We talked about how there are still slaves everywhere in the world today.
We talk about how it is of utmost importance to speak up when someone is being held down. That may mean a child is being bullied at school. It may be a friend saying ugly things trying to be funny. It might be discriminatory laws. We talk about Malala Yousafzai, how she was shot in the head (along with 3 other girls) and how that didn’t stop her from doing what she knew was right to do & now she is changing the world. A teenage girl.
I can make a difference. You can make a difference. She can make a difference. She WILL make a difference.