A few weeks ago, my five year old daughter and I traveled to Washington, DC to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture among other historical landmarks. While we both enjoyed ourselves, I had a bit of an epiphany as we walked through some of the exhibits. Even though we identify as African Americans, we’ve never really discussed race within our household. We live in a multicultural neighborhood, and Quinn attended a multicultural preschool and now a multicultural elementary school. I truly do love that we come in contact and embrace many different races, nationalities, cultures and even religions, but am I negligent in not focusing as much on our African American heritage?
We do talk about relatives who are no longer alive, and when it is African American History month or Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday may talk about the accomplishments of African Americans, but we’ve never really talked about the “struggle” of our ancestors and sadly the “struggle” some African Americans still face today with racism and unfair treatment.
I actually made the decision to stay clear of the slavery exhibits because I just didn’t feel ready for the questions Quinn would have and did not want to expose her to those types of evils. As we walked through the segregation exhibit and witnessed the disparities between blacks and whites, she asked, “How come people had to be separate, Mommy?” As my mind raced for an age appropriate response, I just told her that is used to be that way long ago. Some people are mean and may not like you for different reasons, but everyone is not that way. I told her how many people fought for us so that we could all be together, go to school together and even eat together today.
Everyone’s experience is different, and it saddens me in 2018 that some people are still treated like they are less than human because of the color of their skin. Yes, I want my little girl to be proud of her heritage, but more importantly, I want her to be a proud human being who cares for others regardless of their skin color and just so happens to be African American. I hope that I am a good role model for her to emulate and that she will not allow any future racism or poor treatment because of the color of her skin to deter her from being a good person. As she gets older and more questions or even instances of racism surface, I hope and pray that I am raising a brave and proud daughter who can handle it.
All the best,