Last Thursday when I picked up my five-year-old from school, she had a lot on her mind.
"Did you know that one time people who had skin like daddy's couldn't drink from the bubbler? But people with skin like yours could?"
I considered asking her which group she might have been placed into - but decided to leave that question for the future. Thus, I let her continue.
"Well, a man named Doctor Martin Luther King Junior told everybody that wasn't fair. And somebody shot him, Mom! With a gun!"
She continued telling me what she had learned in school until we got home. I wanted to teach her more – and while her interest was piqued. Especially since the topic of race has come up several times since our last family visit abroad when my daughter experienced being the only mixed child in an entire school.
Our daughter already knows that treating every single person with respect and honor is right. But she's just beginning to learn that the outside world hasn't always (and still doesn't) worked the way things do in our household. Scary territory for a mother...
Luckily, I've always got books on hand and a steadfast desire to shape my children into beautiful and strong human beings. So I pulled out Kadir Nelson's books We are the Ship and Heart And Soul. I also took out Our Children Can Soar - figuring that now, these and other books would have more meaning to my daughter since she had a context to fit them into.
Today, my daughter is off celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday at school. While I know she'll have many more questions to ask for years to come, it is days like these – and books like these – which allow the most important lessons to be learned: love, peace, justice, freedom and humanity.
And those lessons are always welcome in my household.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King!