Thursday, March 17, 2016

What's Below the surface

So I am going there.  Something I never thought I would write about..I'm doing it.  In this world we live in today of race bating, where tensions on that front seem to be higher than ever before.  I am going to talk about why race doesn't matter.

You see I am an immigrants daughter.  My father a Child war refugee, whose dad fled the Nazi invasion of Poland, my dad in tow.  They did not get a straight passage to America.  Their journey involved 2 years of wandering, searching for safety before my Grandfather was hired by the USA for his engineering abilities.

I grew up hearing the stories of the labels put on my dad being a Pole.  Their was definitely bigotry and he got to experience it first hand.   Does my dad have hate in his heart?  No way.  My dad is one of the most gentle souls you will ever meet.  Did his early childhood shape him?  Yes it gave him compassion and a determination to always be able to take care of his family (which he always has).

Why am I talking about this?  I will blame my girls.  You see every few years my kids' school has the students put on a wax museum.  They choose an important historical person and dress like them, learn their biography and memorize a speech summarizing their lives.  The first time only my oldest was in it.  She was in third grade.  She came home and told me she chose Althea Gibson.   I honestly had never heard of her so asked Izabella to describe her to me.    She said, "She was a famous tennis player and she won the US Open.  She had a lot of hard times but went on to be successful in something she loved."  Knowing she would have to dress like her I asked what she looked like, to which my daughter replied, "She wore a really cool skirt and had super curly hair."  I pictured Shirley Temple.  We got home and looked her up together and I discovered she was African American.  My daughter didn't see her color.  She understood that was part of her, but to my daughter her accomplishments stood on their own merit.  It didn't matter to her the color of her skin.  It mattered to her that she won the US Open.  It mattered to her that despite many obstacles she persevered and became successful.   In hind sight part of me wonders if Bella related to Althea due to her at the time yet to be diagnosed learning disability...but that is just speculation.  

I did say it was my daughters who inspired here we are coming up on another wax museum.  My Alina chose Ruby Bridges.  When I asked her how we would make her look like Ruby, Alina replied, "well she was going to school so we'll need a lunch box and she wore nice clothes to school so one of my dresses and a bow in my hair."  No where in her vocabulary did race come up.  I commented to her teacher about it and she said that when she asked Alina why she chose Ruby, Alina told her it was because she was so brave.  She marveled at how she had walked past all those angry adults with her head held high.  She admired her for standing up for what she believed.

You see to my white girls, it isn't skin color that makes people was what they did with their lives.  They give me hope that Martin Luther King Jr.'s I have a Dream speech will in fact come true, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

My kids clearly do not judge by anything but the content of character and for that this mom is very proud.  

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