Yesterday while we were running errands, Napoleona asked me, for the bazillionth time, “Is tomorrow the weekend?” (For some reason the kids both ask me about this all the time. SillyBilly recently bought a new saw and multi-tool with a Home Depot gift card he received for Christmas; he only gets to use these tools with Anthropapa on the weekends. Napoleona just likes to know what’s going on.)
I said that no, it was a holiday, so daycare was closed and Anthropapa might stay home. Then she asked me what holiday it would be.
Diving into deep waters, I explained that sometimes we have holidays to remember important people, like Christmas for Jesus, or Thanksgiving for the Puritans. This holiday was for a man who not too long ago was a preacher, a minister who made speeches about being nice to other people.
Taking a deep breath as I could sense that she still wasn’t clear on this, I explained that this man lived right before Mama and Papa were born, and back then sometimes white people weren’t nice to black people just because of the color of their skin. Some people thought that one skin color made the person better, and another worse. Since that’s not right, this man, who was black, made big speeches about how that was wrong, and that we should all be nice to each other no matter what.
Then I reminded her of our trip to Washington, DC, where we walked from the Washington Monument, all the long way down by the big pool, to the big steps of the Lincoln Monument. I told Napoleona that this man had stood on those big steps and made the biggest speech of all, and the whole space around that pool, all the way back, was filled with people listening to him.
Part of me hated to even bring to her consciousness the idea of judging someone by the color of their skin. But I thought I should try to very simply tell her what the day was all about. How did I do?