Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The times, they are a-changing

I don't think that anyone can deny, regardless of political party or beliefs, that yesterday was a HUGE historical event. The swearing-in of the first black American president. So because I missed watching the actual event as it happened due to kid-type things such as bus-catching and nap putting-downing, last night I was flipping through channels to see what was being said about it. My 14-year-old, Meg, said, "I don't see why this is such a big deal." I was taken aback. She didn't say it in a negative way, no disrespect for the man or the office, she said it in a completely sincere manner.

So I tried to explain why it was such a big deal. That her grandmother, my mother, can remember when she wasn't allowed to drink out of the same water fountains as black people (she used to sneak over and do it when no one was looking, because she wondered if the water tasted different). That there were riots when schools were integrated. She said that yeah, she read her history books. I tried to explain that the inauguration that day was a confirmation of how far the country has come in regards to racial equality and relations. My husband and I kept trying to impress on her just how monumental of an occasion it was. We were unsuccessful. And then I realized...

Intellectually she understands. She just doesn't have the, "Wow, this is a truly historical event" awe-inspiring reaction that adults are having. She doesn't GET it. And that's a GOOD thing. It is just as huge a confirmation of how far the country has come in regards to racial equality and relations as the inauguration itself. To her, the color of someone's skin is just another physical attribute like hair color, eye color, height. It holds no more importance than that. Which is exactly how it should be.

5 comments:

Chantal said...

You are right, it is exactly how it should be.

Jess said...

I think that's a great perspective. It's so nice that each generation gets closer and closer to normalizing this stuff.

My Buddy Mimi said...

I was at the playground once when there was a group of kids who were all burn victims. Mimi ran around and played with them, and didn't notice a thing. I love being able to see things throug her eyes sometimes.

citizen of the world said...

We're getting there. And this event will only help.

Astarte said...

My kids were the same way (although at 9 and 6 are obviously a lot younger than your daughter). Patrick didn't get it at ALL, and I think Josie really only was impressed and excited because I was. We are Left people, so she knew that we were, shall we say, displeased with the Bush administration, and intellectually she got it, but as a kid who was the only white kid in her K and 1st grade classes, she didn't have any frame of reference.