Friday, April 30, 2010

Black and White

We have a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. in our house. Porter had seemingly never paid any attention to it before, but then the other day he asked me if that man was a president. He has the impression that in order to be president, you need to be a black man. This is totally beside the point, but I think that's pretty cool. Even though he really needs to know that anyone can be president, it really feels like a sign of the times here in America.

Back to the point though, I tried to explain the story of Martin Luther King on a four year old level. The civil rights movement and his life and then his assassination. The whole thing was problematic, and I didn't do a very good job. He didn't understand why in the world people would hate each other like that, and then at the end, he said, "so he was a bad man?" He just assumed that was the only reason anyone would get shot. So I kind of got through it, but in the end it didn't seem like Porter really had any idea what I was talking about.

Yesterday we went to the library, and I found a couple of children's books about this very subject! One of them is even 40 years old (gotta love the library). We've been through them once, and Porter looked a little glazed over at the end. I'm not sure if the books are a tad boring or if maybe he is just too young for civil rights history. I do hate to leave a question unanswered, but I'm also pretty sure he has many years of school (and life) to learn all there is to know.

I'm Cooking: Sesame Chicken, Jasmine Rice & Steamed Broccoli.


  1. Those things are hard to understand at 4 years old. You could say, "He was a good man. Some people didn't like that, so they were mean to him. But, he was so good that we have his picture up on the wall, and when you get older, we'll talk about all the good things he did."

  2. I love the innocent assumptions the kiddos make. Kathy's explanation seems like a really good one.

    Tommy's introduction to racial differences has been through baseball (surprise!) - he has a book that mentions the Negro National Baseball Leagues. The other day, he saw a picture of Obama and asked if he was a baseball player. He's started referring to African Americans as "brown" people, which I think is really cute and more accurate, really (I used the term "dark skin"). I don't want to tell him that other people don't use that term, but I suppose I'll have to someday.