At the library this week I dug up three children's books pertaining to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. One paralleled Martin Luther King Jr. with Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish man who came to the United States shortly before his family was killed during Hitler's invasion of Poland. One book is the story of Rosa Parks, and I was especially glad to find an easy reader book from Ruby Bridges' point of view telling about being the first black girl in an all-white school.
My kids have never known that some people are discriminated against. With an armful of books and new concepts... we began reading. Then we stopped reading. Repeatedly. Because they fired questions at me in bewilderment. "Hitler really killed people because they were Jews? Did he know them?" "Where is the drinking fountain for brown skin people? What do they DO if they can't use a white bathroom?" "Why did Ruby need U.S. Marshals to go to school with her? Who would hurt her?"
They were appalled and confused. Later that night we began to connect it to our world- if we lived separately from people of other colors, what would that be like? They named their friends in Sunday School who have different colored skin- each time making mention that they would miss them if they couldn't share a classroom with them.
"What if Gage and Jude couldn't go to McDonalds with us?" This was the closest to home example. Darla particularly couldn't imagine anyone not loving her cousins just because they have brown skin. "Don't people know that Ethiopians can even teach us a new language?!"
I am very thankful that my kids are learning that all people are created by God in His image. I am thankful that it comes as a surprise that not all people believe the same. I am thankful that they are learning now that some things are worth fighting for (or...participating in peaceful activism for...) Their response sobered me. The history I shared with them is familiar to me but triggered fresh passion and 'fight' in me for those that are passed over, looked down on, or persecuted.
With a completely different tone- my boys were delighted to get some toys of different color for Christmas this year. Hudson tells me this is Gage and him:And, if you can see the resemblance, the following is clearly Jude and Everett:
I'm sure the super heros are just preparing for a peaceful protest...