Saturday, January 25, 2014

livin' the dream...

Before we became a transracial family, MLK Day was nothing more than a free day from school or work.

Funny how things changed when this guy came on the scene!

This year, for the first time, we anticipated MLK Day and celebrated it together as a family.

I'm not sure that black families do much to celebrate this holiday.  I'm sure some do.  An african american friend of mine told me he never celebrated it growing up.  

So maybe we're a little overboard.  Maybe not.

But it's one thing to grow up as a black son in a black family, and another thing to grow up as a black son in a transracial family with white parents.  It's one thing to be submersed in a culture you share with your family.  It's another thing to live in a family of a different culture, while being expected to navigate that of your own.  

As a transracial family, we've got to be a little more intentional in bringing Jameson's culture to him and into our lives.  We've got to be purposeful about where we live and places we go.  I don't want Jameson to always be the "token black" in a sea of white culture.  As we've begun learning more about black history, (which was honestly glossed over or ignored in our educational textbooks) I'm amazed at all I missed.  And I'm ashamed by how little I knew or cared.

I can't imagine how much different Caroline's experience will be to grow up with a beautifully chocolate-skinned brother.

But you know?  Maybe it makes sense that our family would celebrate MLK day a little more than most.  

Because if it weren't for Martin Luther King Jr, my family simply wouldn't be what it is.

On the holiday morning, we awoke to the quick footsteps of our daughter entering our room. She bent down and whispered loudly into Marc's ear, "Daddy, it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day!!!!!!"  

(Now, I was ready to celebrate the day alright, but not quite at 7:00am in the morning...) :)

As usual, when she heard Jameson begin to stir in his room, she rushed in to wish him a good morning.  "It's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jameson!" she announced.  I couldn't help but smile at her excitement, still laying in bed listening to their interactions across the hall.

When I heard this happening, (above) I rushed to grab my camera.  Caroline was reading our two MLK children's biographies to her baby brother.   And he was all ears.  How precious is that?

(By the way, knowing what I know now, I'd encourage white families to enrich their children's lives and perspective by teaching them about important people like Martin Luther King Jr, too.  Buy dolls and toys with various skin tones for your kids so that they learn to value people of all color equally.)
After our day got going, here were some easy craft projects we did with Caroline to celebrate MLK day.  I printed off a free coloring page of Rosa Parks, and while she colored, we had an amazing conversation about being brave and doing the right thing, even if it meant getting in trouble for it.

We glued cotton balls down in the shape of a cloud and made this "I have a Dream" page.  We talked about MLK's dream of black and white people being equal, and then Caroline wrote out some of her own dreams:

  • I want to be a Christian when I grow up
  • I want it to be fun when I grow up
  • That I am a mom
  • I want Jameson to learn about Martin Luther King Junior   (he he!)

This craft project I found online was especially meaningful for our family.  We picked out shades of paper that matched each of our skin colors and traced out everyone's hand.  (I'm thinking this could also be done with all different colors of paper and talk about how beautiful God made people of every color.) 

Our family.  Held together by love.  

(yes, Marc really does have crooked fingers)  :)

This was Caroline's favorite part of MLK Day-- 
going out for ICE CREAM!  

To think it wasn't too many years ago that these two wouldn't have been allowed in the same school, 
or drink from the same water fountain, 
or play on the same playground.

I don't care how downhill you might think the world has gone or how we should get back to the "good ol' days."  Some things have gotten much, much better over the years.

My family is a picture of MLK's dream. 
And I love it.
Thank you, Martin Luther King Jr.

"I have a dream that one day... little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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