Monday, January 19, 2015

A holiday that's no holiday

Today is Martin Luther King Day. My kids are young, 7 and under. So I was very tempted to leave them to their bliss, glossing over the significance of this day and the ugly history that it represents. But then I had to explain why there was no school, and how this day is a holiday [for them] but not a holiday [for their parents]. That we therefore wouldn't celebrate by feasting or giving presents, but that we could read a book or watch a video about Dr. King.
Jamie recommended "My Friend Martin", but since we don't have an hour after  a week night dinner and the arm twisting of completing the week's homework, we watched 2 shorter videos. A picture book biography and the I Have A Dream speech.
Jonah (after seeing old black and white footage) asked when he [MLK] would die. Jackson responded that he was already dead, that he was shot right in the middle of the speech. And Jonah, who is very matter of fact about matters of life and death, wanted to watch video of the assassination.
I asked Jackson how he felt about people being treated differently/poorly because of their skin. He told me that it was wrong and that he was glad that didn't happen anymore.
Instead of nodding, I explained that it was still happening. I told him about urban racial tension between police and black communities. I told him about gender pay inequality, and I told him about gay people not being allowed to marry or losing their jobs over who they love.
These are heavy ideas for 7 and 4 and 3 year olds. They are heavy ideas for 38 year olds too.
But I also told him that it's getting better. That I believe the world will be better when he grows up. That people his age will treat people who are different better than people my age, and that people my age treat people better than people my parents' age.

Our Friend, Martin:

A Picture Book Of Martin Luther King Jr:

Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have A Dream Speech: