So I pick up my kids this afternoon--from two vastly different schools--and both of my boys present to me artwork from the day. In brown crayon, my children have tried their best to color-in a photocopied, line-drawn face of Martin Luther King, Jr. As always, when I see their work, naturally, I beam. But today was special.
As a black woman, only in my adult, professional years have I become used to being "the only." As a child, I never thought about so-called minority status. My schools, family, extended family and friends were comprised of diverse, loving and supportive people who happened to look like me. For my 5-year-old, however, that is not the case. As the only black boy in his class, sometimes he's remarkably aware of his "difference."
Aware of, but not limited by.
And to that we owe a lot to Dr. King. On King Day it would be just as easy to take the day off from work and school without a second thought about the man for whom the day was named. But what a lesson lost on children. The notion that King (who lived to be all of 39) promoted most vehemently, was that humanity is what matters, not complexion, for God's sake--and IMO, it's one of the most important lessons to teach our kids in this life. Dr. King helped to nudge this country forward into a better place for all of us. Only 40 years after his death, our children are inheriting a new world, an inter-connected world in more ways than one. It's an age old spiritual teaching to say that what affects one of us, affects us all.
In King's time, my wonderful, sensitive, kind, joke-telling, lion-loving son would not, could not have been in the class he's in, not in the school either. Perhaps that would be a loss for him, but I know it would be a loss for his classmates and school too.
This MLK Day remind your children about what really matters. We all come with unique gifts.