Growing Out Of Innocence

Captain’s Log.  Daddy Chronicles.  Diaper Date 1586.  So today was MLK Day.  I am old enough to remember when it was not recognized as a national holiday (It was originally a “teacher work day” at my elementary school.  Mom wrote a letter.  It became a holiday.)  I am old enough to have a parent who integrated a school.  I am old enough to have experienced the hatred, ignorance, and bigotry first hand.  I remember being called “boy” (which doesn’t seem like an insult until it is shouted in your face or accompanied with spit or an attempt to trip/push you don a flight of stairs), chocolate, and another name that I dare not dignify with print.  I have been spat at, assaulted, had rocks thrown at my car, and a number of other experiences. My experiences aren’t unique or the extreme, but it is part of my history – how I grew out of innocence. 

I don’t remember the year I recognized race.  I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood and attended predominantly white schools.  It wasn’t for a lack of knowing who I was/am or where I came from – I was raised to embrace all people.  That’s not to say that I always did, but there is a difference between the normal childish/adolescent/teenage ignorance and the ignorance that is passed down from generation to generation.

I am also old enough to know that people change and times change.  One of those kids that harassed me from grade 1 through 7?  He apologized his last day of school.  He realized I wasn’t who he thought.  He recognized that his behavior wasn’t who he was. 

For every despicable act of ignorance, there were at least three acts of kindness or compassion.   

The eldest asked why we didn’t have work/school today.  Not gonna lie.  I chickened out.  She’s four.  She’s still innocent.  She doesn’t like mean people in movies – she doesn’t need to know the depth of cruelty that real people can have.  I explained simply that Dr. King was a man who spoke to lots of people about how important it is to treat each other well.  To play nice with others.  To be nice to others.  I explained that he went on things called marches, which I described as a parade but with a serious message, to spread the word to as many people as possible. 

She didn’t ask any further questions, but I know one day she will. 

One day I will share the stories, the history (both good and bad), but I feel like these stories have a happy ending – hope.  

MLK Day has always been more than a celebration of one man, which I think Dr. King would want it that way, it has been a day of reflection.  Reflection on the progress we have made and the progress we still need to make. 

Personally, I am thankfully for the positive people in my life and I hope that my kids not only continue to have those type of people in their life, but become positive influences themselves for others.  That is how we can keep the dream alive.

Captain out.

6 thoughts on “Growing Out Of Innocence”

  1. Love this…beautifully written! Our youngest is only one, but I already worry about how I will tell him his story some day. His birthmom chose adoption because of racial issues within her family. It’s definitely a tradgedy for them for them because they’re missing out on a treasure…but of course God wanted us to be his all along. I just hate the thought of being honest on that level with him someday. But everyone has a story and adopted children deserve to know theirs, that’s what the experts say…blah blah blah;)

    • Samantha,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. You are a kind person and when the time comes I am sure that, though it won’t be easy, the talk wit tour youngest will be honest, living and kind. Sometimes that is all we can do. Knowing that the two of you will be there for support will make that talk easier.

    • Karen,
      Thank you for the compliment. I do try to find the lighter side of most things, but sometimes you have to just have honest moments and reflect. This was one of those days. I hope to make you laugh again soon to make up for it! Thank you for taking the time to read!

  2. Wow. What a powerful moment. As I get ready to enter into a marriage and potentially start a family, I can’t decide if I’m excited for those conversations (which I think I am) or scared to have them (which I know I am). I often wonder if I’ll have the tact to have them gently and nuturingly or if I’ll blunder through them potentially doing more harm than good. I’m thankful to know guys like you who are willing to share your experiences. I’ve always respected you and the way you’ve handled life. This post just confirmed for me that not much has changed.

    Thanks Capt’n

    • Justin,
      Wow. Thanks for the kind words. I think you will find that it is a challenge. You hate that you have to have that talk, but you appreciate the fact that you can have the talk. The fact that you respect the sensitivity of any issue shows that you care and puts you ahead of the game. Thanks for reading and commenting, and congratulations on the upcoming marriage!


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