In recognition of the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and to kick off Black History month in February, we are working on Dr. King today...It is a strange feeling for me this year, away from my students and my yearly traditions of celebrating holidays and themes. I worked for 7 years with 99% African American children and I found in those years an education for myself in black history. These months were always full of richness and exploration in the classroom and as I reached beyond the classes I had taken I was fortunate enough to be immersed in a rich culture in the neighborhood where I worked. The area that was once "the cradle of jazz" , housed the King Arts Complex, schooled me in artists like Amina Robinson, and brought friendships with elders from local churches and businesses is a place I will always treasure. I feel honored to have been a part of that community.
It became evident to me even before children were a thought, that I would raise my children in as diverse a life as possible. I grew up in a small cookie cutter town (read white) and had only a few friends that were not white. It was my geographical fate, but my eyes opened so wide to the world that summer I went to Europe and that fall I left for college. It became very important for me to have an open mind and realize that no matter where you come from, you can always grow towards the light.
Today we did a simple felt board lesson about friendship and MLK Jr. and watched some of the "I Have a Dream Speech" on youtube.
Finn is amazing. He has not even mentioned the skin color of his friends to me. I think this is because he grew up coming to visit me at school and at the recreation center where diversity ruled. I think he just from an early age saw people as people. I know he will question things, as all children do...and I feel pretty confidant about talking to him about race. I feel the same way about disabilities, sexual orientation, sexism, and lookism...I think it has to just be started small and from the heart. It has to be modeled and important in yr household. We have started talking about equality and small concepts of everyone being the same on the inside...but I am always looking for tips and advice from the trenches of parenthood. Please email me if you have any or want to compile a small resource for other parents. My teaching allowed me to explore and solidify how I thought I would want to to teach my own children, but it is harder than I thought it would be. This role as parent is so massive....you are so in charge of helping grow a character from seedling. I just want the garden to be fertile.
"Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. Say that I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things in life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that's all I want to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he is traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain."
Excerpted from "The Drum Major Instinct", a sermon by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968