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FLASHBACK: It’s in the teaching

Every once in a while I look through my past writing and dust off something from the vault. I originally wrote this in January, 2009, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Ethan was almost four.

I told Ethan there was no school today because it was a special holiday called Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. He wanted to know what the holiday was all about so I explained to him as follows:

Me: Do you remember when we were in the grocery store and you asked me why some people have darker skin than we do?

Ethan: Yes. And some people have lighter skin!

Me: Yes! Do you remember that I told you that is because it is important to have variety — to have all sorts of different people because if we were all the same life would be boring?

Ethan: Yes! And some people have red hair.

Me: Like Zoe.

Ethan: Yes. And Jonah at school.

Me: Yes. Well, a long time ago — well, long ago in your life — there were people in the United States and around the world who didn’t like all that variety. They thought that people with different skin color shouldn’t be treated as nicely as they were.

Ethan: That’s terrible, Mommy.

Me: Yes, it was terrible. But there were a lot of people who knew that variety was a very good thing. And there was a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. who talked to the people of the United States about how important it is to have variety and to share the United States with everyone, no matter how light or dark their skin is. He was a very good man.

Ethan: Where is the King man now?

Me: Well, buddy, Martin Luther King is no longer alive.

Ethan: He’s DEAD? Oh nooooooo…… (Ethan gets visibly upset and a little weepy)

Me: Yes he is, bud, but we have a holiday every year to celebrate his life and all the good things he did.

Ethan: That’s good. But I’m sad he’s dead, Mommy.

Me: Me too, buddy.

Ethan: When will *I* be dead?

Me: Not for a very very long time.

Ethan: That’s good!

Me: Yes, yes it is! I like having you around.

Then I got a very sweet hug.

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