How This Evansville Mom Explained Racial Tolerance to Her Daughter
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the great Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and at the same time, our city is embroiled in what appears to be becoming a racial divide. As an Evansville citizen and as a mom in 2013, this makes me sad. Where is the tolerance? Where is the love of our fellow man? I would like to share with you how I taught my daughter to be accepting and tolerant of others.
I grew up in a home with a single mom who was born in the mid 1940's - a home where anyone who wasn't Caucasian was referred to as "those people." I remember feeling angry towards my mother for using that phrase. I knew what her words and tone implied. I do not see people that way nor would I want to be viewed that way myself.
When my daughter was little & first got into Barbie dolls... I did not buy the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian barbies for her. I bought her the African-American, the Asian, the Hawaiian barbies. Why? Because I knew that eventually, as most young children do, she would be faced with someone who looked different from herself on the outside. At the time we were living in a very small rural town of about 8,000 people with very little ethnic diversity and I knew that it would only be a matter of time before I would be faced with the question of, "Mommy why is my skin ____, and they're skin is ____." This has inevitably happened to every parent. We've all heard the horror stories of someone's child asking this question very loudly in the supermarket checkout.
See I had a plan for that inevitable question, and that menagerie of Barbie dolls was the answer. When the question finally came from my then 5 year old daughter, I told her that her barbies LOOKED different on the outside but that (and this may be morbid) if we cut them open, they all looked the same on the inside. They were made of the same stuff on the inside regardless of what they looked like on the outside. And that THAT was what was important to remember. I want my daughter to be tolerant of others. I want her to understand that regardless of the color of our skin, our religion of choice, our sexuality, that we are one race of people - Human.
One day, my daughter may have a daughter of her own, and when that time comes, I hope that as a city, as a country, and as a people that we can put our outside differences aside, and learn to appreciate each other for the wonderful Human beings that we are. Martin Luther King isn't the only one with a dream...
“Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.