And like her being adopted, and having a genetic disorder, I decided it would be best to just start small with things she can understand, and talk more and answer questions as we go along. So I found a book at the library called Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson. It is a child's viewpoint from slavery through civil rights all the way to present day. It's passed down from generation to generation through quilts that showed slaves the way to freedom up North.
As I read to my daughter I had to fight tears. I am NOT an emotional person. But there was just something about sitting there with my daughter and thinking about what her ancestors endured that completely overwhelms my emotion. How can a person really hate someone else so much just because of the color of their skin? How does that hatred go so far as to deem a group of people, as being equal to an animal you could own? I just can't quite wrap my mind around it.
And as I sat there fighting to get through each page in the book I wondered what my daughter was taking in. At some point she asked a question about the pages on segregation. I told her a while ago people with different colors of skin couldn't do things together like we can now. I shared with her the names of some of the amazing people who fought to make it so we can all do things together now. Her response was holding up her arm and saying, 'Abigail habs bwown skin. Mama habs peach skin.' I agreed, and she climbed down from the couch and began building a fly boat (if you don't know what I'm talking about here, read my last post).
But I was affected the rest of the day. I have been watching African American Lives 2 a PBS documentary where a college professor traces the roots of some famous African Americans. All of it has just been stirring my thoughts on race, and what a big mess America has made by trying to make different races. To quote Margaret Atwood, 'I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one 'race'-the human race-and that we are all members of it.'
However if the answer really was as easy as everyone realizing that we are all just humans we wouldn't still have the issues with racism that we see now. As a white woman who grew up in a predominantly white world I would have likely believed that racism was not very prevalent anymore.
While we haven't had a large amount of racist interactions, there have been enough at this point for this white woman to realize that even if blacks are allowed 'equal rights' they are not always treated right, or as equals. I don't know how to protect my daughter from it (or if that's even possible). I do know that I am going to do my best to give her the words she needs to respond to people who believe her to be inferior because of the color of her skin.
I think one of the best ways to help her to move forward is to teach her about the past. So I will continue to read, talk, and try to answer questions the best I can for her. If you have any book recommendations (for kids or for me to read), websites that are good, or just advice from a different perspective I would LOVE to hear it. Because for whatever reason, people in America are still being taught to fear and hate this beautiful little girl...because she 'habs bwown skin.'