January is Black History Month. I think every month should be. My husband didn't want our daughters learning about slavery and segregation at school before he had a chance to tell them about it, so last month he bought some children's books about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman to begin the discussions.
The night before last I talked to my Princesses about Ruby Bridges and told them her story. We then watched the made-for-tv-movie about her that we downloaded from the internet.
Our girls were revited. The conversation afterwards was by turns amazing, troubling, hopeful, inspiring, and dismaying. Here are some of their comments:
"Mama, why were all the white people so mean?"
"I'm gonna pray for people who are nasty for God to forgive them, just like Ruby did."
"Ruby's teacher was white and she was so nice. I wish she was my teacher."
"I love Ruby. I want to be smart like her. How can I get so smart like her?"
"I hate white people."
"If President Obama gets killed, will the white people be mean to us?"
"I want to write a letter to Ruby and invite her over to stay with us."
So, after some clarifying conversation (somewhat clarifying, how, afterall, does one explain the evils of racism, slavery and segregation??), Princess Diva sat down with an unused Christmas card. Occassionally she asked me how to spell specific words. She didn't want me to read what she wrote, but I did anyway (because I think the need to know what is in her head is more important than her wish for confidentiality, I know not everyone would agree with me, but hey, raise your own kids the way you want and I won't judge you, ok?) Here is what she wrote:
I just saw your movie and I know that a lot of kids was mean to you. I was so sad because all the people was so mean and all the whites people was so mean to you and I want to be smart like you. Do you have any advice for me and can you teach me. I want to be smart like you. I live in *******. Can you visit me someday and you can stay in my house when ever you want you could call me my home number is ***-***-****. and I am 10 years old and I want to do good on my test because you did good on your test when I saw your movie. I go to *** School so someday come and teach me so I can can everything right and come teach me.
We found Ruby's address on line: Ruby Bridges, PO Box 870248, New Orleans, LA 70187 and I will mail the letter today.
I think I will include a note to let Ms. Bridges know that I believe her parents' decision and her actions have helped to make it possible for people like us to adopt interracially. When a child is adopted, a new family is created.
Today I want to thank and honor the little girl, and the fine woman she has become, Ruby Bridges. God bless you. And praise God for taking something horrific, and completely tranforming it...in only the way He can.