Sunday, November 24, 2013

Parent Fail

That moment when something simple your child says makes you realize you have failed as a parent. Yeah, that.

"Our teachers wants us to write something for the Fox Channel essay contest about Martin Luther King, but I don't want to. You know they throw him at us every year in school but that doesn't really have anything to do with us today. Really, what does he mean to us now?"


Here I am, a highly educated white liberal parent who grew up immersed in a world of the civil rights movement, watching the women's rights movement evolve, the gay rights struggle grow into a movement for LGBTQ equality, and my daughter doesn't understand why Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is important to her today. Parent fail.

Clearly the school has been doing its part, but somehow we have not done our part at home to make the connection in her brain: this is important to us. She is a very literal person and we have not connected the dots for her. And because she is white, middle class, with pretty much every opportunity she needs in life open to her, she doesn't get it. I thought she got it. But, clearly, she doesn't.

My daughter cares a lot about women's rights, and LGBTQ rights. She has always supported special needs students in her school, reaching out a hand of friendship and assistance. She has always had friends in her classes from diverse backgrounds. In spite of this she doesn't know how much rights for people of color, women, LGBTQ people and special needs and disabled people owe to the work of Dr. King and his contemporaries.

We have our work cut out for us. This phrase has been in my head since last night -- "if any one of us is enslaved, then we are all enslaved." When I looked that up, I came across a wonderful song, sung by Solomon Burke: "None of Us Are Free".

None of us are free.

None of us are free.

None of us are free, one of us is chained.

None of us are free.

We have to start somewhere. I refuse to believe it is too late. I'm going to start with a song.


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