Sunday, January 17, 2010

MLK here at the CDA

What to do with MLK Day here at the {Urban} Country Day Academy?

I have to be honest with you... we're not tackling it this year.

Lest you be aghast at my perceived insensitivity, allow me to explain:  Urban Kid 1 lives in a neighborhood often referred to as "Boys' Town."  She takes part in classes all over Chicago at various businesses, encountering kids from all walks of life.  Her father teaches at Great Big Urban High School, which is known for being pretty much a living, breathing Bennetton ad.  Without any intentional social engineering on our part, the Urban Kids have a pretty diverse population in their day-to-day experiences.

Today, as we Skyped with Best Namma Ever!, BNE! told us about how she was involved in committee at her church that would be getting together tomorrow with other folks of similar committees from other churches to commemorate the day.  And Urban Kid 1 asked, "what's 'black' mean?"  So BNE!, concerned that she had to correct herself, said, "oh, I mean African-American."  UK1 still didn't get it. 

I then went about naming people that we know who are African-American.  And she started to understand, but not really.  And it occurred to BNE! and me at that moment that she doesn't get the concept of race.  At six years old, she's not seeing people's skin color.  She doesn't peg people by how they look or where they live or where they go to school.  As much as she can exasperate me some days, the fact is that she has such an open heart and soul for everybody that it is going to break my heart to explain some aspects of the world.  We'll do it, of course.  But not quite yet.

So tomorrow, we enjoy her innocence and naivete for the moment.  We'll go about our regular day, unless we hear back from her buddy Maya's nanny.  At that point, we'll drop everything and go do something fun (lest my homeschool miss a "socialization opportunity" -- aka: playdate).

In the meantime, I'm grateful.  I'm grateful that her first instinct is love, and that she lives in a place and time where that's encouraged and welcomed.

I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled... a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character...  Martin Luther King, Jr.


TiffanyB said...

As a homeschool mom myself, I agree with your sentiment. My 7 year old hasn't learned the terms "black" or "African American" and I'd like to keep it that way. I want him to see people!! He is fascinated by the families in our CC that are bi-lingual; he appreciates the great stories his CC tutor from Russia shares. We teach that God loves everyone and since I taught King's speeches when I taught public high school, I see many times that I quote his beautiful ideas. Make no mistake, we aren't glossing over any part of history - the good, the bad and the ugly. Embrace the purity of your children who don't automatically first describe people by their I wish I could do the same on a more consistent basis.

rita said...

My oldest granddaughter doesn't have any idea what "black" means related to people. Pretty cool.

Uptown Girl said...

that is beautiful and so touching. thanks for sharing.

when I was in high school my youngest sister was about 3 years old and could never remember my friends' names. She really liked my friend Heather who is black (beautiful brown skin actually). Bc she couldn't remember her name, my sis would ask for Heather by saying, "you know, your grey friend". This was her way of describing color... grey.