“Among my favorite quotes in all of history are the ones spoken by my own son on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
I’ll never forget when Eli was five, we closed the book we’d been reading about Dr. King, and he said, ‘Mom! You are white and I am brown, and that means Martin made it so you could adopt me!’ And today, after watching the famous ‘I have a dream’ speech, Eli grabbed his little brother’s hand and said, ‘Look! Martin’s dream came true.’
It really is beautiful when you sit back and think about it.
Here I am. Half a century later, unraveling some of those same prejudices Dr. King fought against from my own son’s heart when he walks through the door after school.
He was 2 years old when a neighbor at a playgroup asked all the kids to go around the room and say what color they were. They all laughed when it was Eli’s turn, and he said he was white like everyone else did. They made sure he left knowing he wasn’t. He was 4 the first time kids told him he couldn’t play with them on the playground because he was black.
Since the day they laid his tiny black body in my white arms there have been more wounds to his personal identity and sense of belonging than I could ever imagine in a lifetime.
And I wasn’t prepared for any of it.
It kills me that I have to tell one of the humans I love most in this world that his ancestors had to survive some of the worst America had to offer, and that many of his race still are. And that he will too.
Most days it feels impossible to convince him of his value when more often than not, his worth is being measured by the color of his skin. It feels almost futile to tell him how many people are fighting for him now, and how far we have come, when he is exposed to so much backwards thinking each day.
I am still trying to figure that one out.
In the meantime, I hope I’m teaching my boys that like Dr. King, we can try our best to live in a state of relentless forgiveness for those who are still failing to recognize that different is beautiful in everyone, and we all have something unique and valuable to offer. And like Dr. King, I hope I can teach them to never stop defending those who are being mistreated because of their differences.
All oppression is interconnected. Race, religion, sexual preference, disabilities, you name it. We all face adversity. We are all human, we all make mistakes and we all want to belong and to be loved. We are all capable of moving forward, learning more about ourselves through our own unique challenges and becoming more compassionate in the process. We are all the same kind of different and the world is so much more beautiful because of it.
I am forever grateful for the birth of a man and many others like him who started us down this path of love and acceptance. I am grateful to be able to tell my son that there are so many out there that haven’t stopped blazing this trail for him. And that we can continue to invite others to join us on working to change the world for him.
Thank you for hoping and believing right alongside me for a world in which inequality and racial barriers won’t exist anymore. A world that doesn’t think twice about it when they see him holding the hand of his little brother of a difference race. A world in which his dreams for whoever he wants to be will come true.”
Read about Eli’s adoption here:
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