|**photo by Gail E. Photography|
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Two little white girls and the discussion of race
Yesterday, I was helping my youngest daughter get dressed and, like for most incidents in our house, we were not alone in her room. She and her older sister were animatedly discussing art work they had made, I joined the conversation by telling Addie that "I made that!" as I pointed to her chest. After a moment of confusion she started laughing and in her completely childish innocence she said "Thank you for making me white, I like being white!" After a moment of stunned silence I started laughing, but then I started listening to where that comment had led the sisters' conversation. The older Abigail started telling Addie, in a very hushed voice (as if the words she was about to utter were so shocking they couldn't be spoken too loud) that "back a long time ago, brown people weren't allowed to use the same things as white people and they were told what to do and didn't have the same rights as us!" Addie become quite indignant, squared her scrawny shoulders and pointed her finger into the air then declared "If I were a brown person I would say to everyone, 'We need to be friends! You can't tell me what to do, we can do the same things!'" Abigail was happy to report that "Oh but someone did Addie! His name was Martin Luther King and he said we can all be friends! He said that everyone was equal!" Addie was silent for a moment then whispered "I like him! I bet he's old by now but I like him." That's when Abigail shook her head sadly and said "Oh he's not old, he was shot a long time ago." At this point they bowed their heads for a moment of silence and then Abigail wanted to know why "all those good people back then" had to get shot. I had no answer for her other than that there were always people trying to stop the good in the world, but that we can't let that stop us from trying to do the right thing for everyone. This is the point where the brother comes in and causes conflict with his very presence so the room erupts in squeals and arguments and this very important conversation was forgotten by the children but not by me.