My daughter’s pre school talked about Martin Luther King on friday and my daughter was very into it. She told me all about him, saying that she knew more about him than anybody, which is a four year old's way of wanting to possess something, of saying that she was feeling strongly. She told me that people with white skin could do whatever they wanted and people with brown skin could not. Then she told me that she had brown skin. My heart hurt, just hearing this, seeing her have her first awareness of unfairness directed at her. She told me that Martin Luther King changed the world and he was very kind and very forgiving.
I told her that Martin was my hero. I told her that my skin was white, but I was the mommy of someone with brown skin, and the daughter of someone with brown skin, and how much it hurt me that she or anybody was not treated fairly because of the color of their skin. I told her I loved Martin and what he did. I told her how important he and his work was to me, that it matter because I cared, and not just because I was not the mommy or the daughter of people with brown skin.
Then we got out a birthday candle so she could sing happy birthday to him.
We did not get into the part about all the work that is left to do. I’m saving that for another day. This conversation is not easy, not perfect, but so necessary. I hope all moms are having it today. I hope you keep talking about race to your kids and each other. God bless you, Martin Luther King, thank you.