Bedtime Theology with the 3 yo...
(Snuggling up to read a book about Martin Luther King, Jr)
Me: Now, this is Martin Luther King, Junior.
3 yo: A king! He bring a gift to the little Lord Jesus?
Me: Oh, he's actually not a king.
3 yo: That's sad.
I read aloud the same book today, as I did last year when we had this chat, on the day that honors the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My children are older, so today no one asked me if Martin Luther King was royalty. Instead, we discussed how people are still working toward equality and freedom for all. Why? asked my older child. Dr. King got the laws changed. It was an honest question from a 7-year-old, who with his white skin doesn't quite understand the pervasiveness of racism, discrimination and hatred of those who we construct as "other."
I explained that racism and discrimination still exist today and then tried to give examples. He said, oh this is in other countries? No, I said, in ours. Oh, in which states? Maybe just some? Oh child. In all of them, and in our own hearts, too.
These conversations are hard for parents to have but I keep trying because I know they are important. I recognize as a white woman parenting white children that it's my privilege to discuss racism with my children at my leisure; racism won't hurt my children's bodies, but the systemic sin hurts all our souls.
Working for justice is a crucial part of the Christian faith, which I touched on in my last blog post. I don't have all the answers; I'm on the road with a lot to learn. This past month or so (I'm a slow reader) I've been working on Ibram X Kendi's well-researched book/memoir How to be an Antiracist. It doesn't tell me how to talk to little children about race or justice or necessarily even what to do about it. Instead he tells stories of how he, a Black man, learned to confront his own racism, sexism, homophobia and more. He weaves the personal narrative with historical facts and research. I've learned a lot, and I'm a bit in awe. If he can learn to identify and transform his own racist tendencies, then I probably can, too.