Whites Only (an MLK Weekend Post)

Sometimes, even when I think I’m prepared to handle discussions of tricky topics with my seven-year-old son, he springs one on me by surprise. Like today, as I was walking him home from school and he said, “There used to be signs that said ‘White Only.'”

. . .

And then he said, “But there weren’t any that said ‘Black Only.'”

. . .

I don’t even remember how I did it, but I eased into some kind of conversation about skin color and our country’s history of slavery. “White people made the laws?” was one question my son asked, along with, “There are different colors of black people?” (which came up when I mentioned mixed-race people sometimes being able to “pass” as white).

I’m mostly pleased with my son’s sense of outrage and injustice that such a thing ever occurred. He told me in strident tones, “Well, if I lived back then, I’d tell them that since I’m a white person I can make the laws and the laws would be to treat black people nice.”

Good for you, kiddo. Let’s hope the majority of your generation is as open and tolerant.

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