Martin Luther King, Jr day should be a time of reflection, a day that goes well beyond teaching our children a superficial, cliff notes, "happy ending" story about racism in our country. As we take time to reflect on the words and dreams of Dr. King, I think it's imperative to look into our own lives and interactions to be certain we are showing our children that we are living the ideals we teach them.
Some time ago I mentioned to my Mother how much I appreciated her raising me with a colorblind attitude and that I wasn't sure how she had done it. I never remember considering a person's skin color as a means to judge a person, honestly I never remember thinking much of anything about skin color. I grew up in a very small rural community in Kansas and I'm almost certain there wasn't a single black person in our entire K-12 school. From my adult perspective I know that my best friend was Hispanic but at the time it simply didn't occur to me, nor did it matter.
My Mom reminded me that our family had a history confronting racism , and that I had inevitably heard the stories when I was young. You see my Grandparents moved to a small town in Kansas sometime in the 60's. My young Aunt joined the local Bluebird Group (akin to Girl Scouts) until my Grandmother noticed that each time a black girl would ask to join, the group was suddenly "full". So she decided to lead her own Bluebird group open to anyone who wanted to join.
Today this sounds like a quaint story about a Mom doing what she thought was right. But I think about the resolve it must have taken my Grandma who was new to town and undoubtedly had small town social politics and societal pressures of the 60's to deal with. I look to her example of not taking the easy path, but the right path as a reminder and an inspiration.
It's with this lesson in mind that I strive to parent by example. I am certain that living the lessons my husband and I want our children to learn, in both word and action, is the best way to impart the values that are important to us, like racial equality. I'm grateful for the shining example of love my Grandmother was throughout her life, and the way my Mother carried and nurtured these values in my childhood.