So this is a conversation overheard on Friday morning by GEW and Hubby as Boy and Girl struck out on their own in the house after they woke up at six a.m. (I have no idea why they chose not to roust us, but they settled on an independent survivor-ish approach to the morning, so we just eavesdropped from our bed). This particular bit took place when they were in the bathroom, contemplating brushing their teeth:
Boy: Hey, did you know that today is the birthday of a peacemaker?
Boy: It is. Yeah. So, see, there are people with brown skin. Do you have any friends with brown skin?
Girl: Ummmm . . . . no.
Boy: Oh! Well, when you grow up, you can have friends with brown skin! I have friends with brown skin. They're called Black people.*
Boy: Yeah. And a long time ago, they weren't allow to do things. And back then, T. and E. wouldn't have been able to come to our house for dinner.**
Boy: Yeah. White people--like us, we're white people--put up signs against people with brown skin. Black people couldn't go to the park. Doesn't that sound so mean?
Girl: Yeah! So mean!
Girl: Let's not brush our teeth right now.
Boy: Okay. Let's go get some cereal.
*Actually, most of the Boy's brown-skinned friends are Latino or Latina. But, I suppose that's a mere technicality when you're focused on peacemaking.
**T. and E. are friends of our who are Italian.
The Boy has been talking a lot about the Peacemaker whose birthday we are celebrating. He even brought home a little book from school called, "Our Friend, Martin." And I have felt pretty comfortable talking about all of this with him after reading a chapter in the book Nurtureshock called "Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race." Seems the research says it's much more effective to discuss the details than to allow abstractions to rule the day.
Whether or not I facilitate these conversations effectively (when I'm there to facilitate them at all), I sure love seeing the Boy impassioned by the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. I can't wait until he can read "Letter from Birmingham Jail."