I was tucking Abigail into bed last night and reminded her that she could sleep in and enjoy her morning. She remembered that it was Martin Luther King, Jr day. She asked, “Jr means there was someone else with that name. Who was that?” I told her what I knew about her father and how MLK Jr was also a Southern black preacher (like his father) who led a movement to gain civil rights for black people 50-60 years ago. We talked about Rosa Parks on the bus in Alabama and how brave she was to remain seated in her seat. We talked about how badly some white people treated black people, abusing or killing them for a stray look or a misstep or just for fun. I think she knew a lot of the information we discussed but we talked pretty plainly about how important it is to celebrate the bravery of the white and black pioneers of the Civil Rights movement.
I love where I grew up and I am proud to have come from a small town. It’s funny though…we were monocolor and in some ways were so incredibly far apart away from race issues. There was no diversity though so it was not an issue. While I never saw race riots or first-hand discrimination or anything even close, I heard plenty of racial slurs and stereotypes and if anyone had ever even seen a person of color, it might have been different. I didn’t really think much of it at the time as I knew not a single non-white person until I was in high school. But for Isaac and Abigail, they don’t even comprehend racism. That is not to say that it does not exist today, but I am so thankful that in their lives and experiences in their school, it seems to be absent. I truly think that they no more understand hating someone for the color of their skin than hating someone because they are left handed or blonde.
As Abigail and I were finishing our conversation, she said, “Thanks Dad for answering all of my questions.” (Yes, she said it just like that) Thinking ahead to her preteen years, I assured her that she could always ask me any question and she would never be in trouble for curiosity. “Well Dad, there is one more thing then…I have always wondered how cars work…”