Monday, January 19, 2009

Let us eat cake

Last night, as we sat in the kitchen eating dinner I casually reminded the girls that they did not have school today.

“Oh yes,” said Peanut. “It is somebody’s birthday.”

“That’s right,” I said, smiling at her. “Do you know whose?”

“Somebody’s king,” she said, rolling her eyes to the ceiling to think. “A king of something.”

“Close – Martin Luther King, Jr. We have a holiday to honor him. Do you know why?”

She shook her head.

I launched into a discussion of dark skin and light skin, and of laws that used to say people of different skin colors couldn’t drink from the same water fountain, or attend the same schools.

She listened raptly. “Tell me more about that,” she asked.

I explained how people — lead by Dr. King — fought against those laws. How Dr. King stood up and talked and got people to listen. How he led the country to slowly change.

She sat transfixed.

“What do you think of all that?”

“It’s not fair,” she said. “It’s not fair that people couldn’t do the same things. Why was that?”

Taking a deep breath I carefully explained how some people with light skin thought they were better than people with dark skin.

“That’s wrong,” she said breathlessly.

“It is. It’s so wrong. But things are changing. This week this country will have the very first president with dark skin.”

“Barack Obama!” she interjected excitedly.

“That’s right! And he made it to president because of the bravery of Martin Luther King. Only about 50 years ago, Barack Obama wouldn’t be able to eat in the same restaurant as us in some states, but on Tuesday he’ll be our president. What do you think about that?”

“That’s really cool.”

“It is.”

“Can we have a cake tomorrow for the birthday?”

“Maybe,” I said.

My children are growing up in a country that has elected a black president. They will never sit around wondering if it will happen. It has happened. They will never think, "not in my lifetime," as I once skeptically did.

Tomorrow we will watch the inauguration. I will probably cry tears of joy - heart swelling with pride as a long-overdue realization of Dr. King's dream finally occurs.

We did not have cake today, simply because I spent the day at the office and they the day sledding with their father and friends. But I think tomorrow we will.

I feel like celebrating.

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Blogger ryssee said...

Such great responses from Peanut. Kids are cool and open to so much, and they know what's fair and what's not. Why do people grow out of that?
MLK's dream fulfilled is awesome.
I always thought it would happen through the Republican Party (same as if a woman were finally voted to office). I would've been happy to see it with Colin Powell back in the day if he'd decided to run, but I still would've needed to read up on the platform to make that vote. This is bonus time for me. Plus, OB is brilliant.
I can't wait, and if I get to see the inauguration and the speech, I'll probably cry too.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Not Hannah said...

Inauguration cake. What an awesome idea!!!

10:09 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Definitely a celebration day!

We watched a video of the 'I Have a Dream' speech this morning. YouTube is such a great resource.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I am excited too!

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Shirley said...

And just think, sometime during your lifetime (though probably not mine for I expect this man to deserve 4 more years) you may live to see a female president, though I suspect she - like Obama - will have to come upon the scene unexpectedly.

Let us hope we don't have to wait until your children's adulthood. Though who knows, one of us may be raising the first female president.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Not Hannah said...

I made cake. For rizzy. Because? I'm so freakin' happy.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous alejna said...

It is definitely a day to celebrate. I just want to savor it.

Of course, some cake would be tasty, too.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

I love these conversations with little kids - they are just so honest. I think the cake idea was genius!

As my son said to me as I walked out the door to work on Inauguration day - Happy Obama Day! Indeed.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Just wanted to stop by and say hello.. and tell you I've been thinking about you.

Have a good day!

11:39 AM  

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