Friday, June 7
Civics and geometry
"Do you know what kind of coin this is?"
"Yep. It's a penny."
"That's right. And do you know who the man is on the coin?"
"That's Abraham Lincoln. A long time ago he was president of the United States."
"Why'd they put him on a coin?"
"Well, a long time ago, right here in North Carolina, people with skin that's light like you and me were really mean to people with dark brown skin."
"Our skin is brown sometimes, like on our arms."
"That's true. But people with dark brown skin were made slaves by people with light skin, just because of the color of their skin. The slaves had to work without getting paid and people with light skin were really mean to them. But Abraham Lincoln said that slaves weren't allowed anymore, so that's why they put him on a coin. And now people with dark brown skin can do the same things as people with skin like you and me."
"Hey, I have friends with skin like that!"
"I know you do."
"Like from my class...what's his name? You know...his head is oval."
In the end, despite the shortcomings of my explanation and the complexity of racism I can't yet begin to describe to my five-year-old son, what really matters is that he judges his friends not by the color of their skin, but by the shapes of their heads.