My young homeschoolers, Sunshine (7), Eby (5), and Little Man (3) have a special time each morning when we gather on the sofa to read our One Year Children’s Bible, followed by a story or two out of The Children’s Book of Heroes, and then some picture books. It is a restful moment in the midst of a busy day.
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Today I opened our Hero book to the story of Jackie Robinson. The intro at the top of the page read,
Here is the story of an American hero who won his fight using self-control. Often, bravery means keeping your cool and doing the best you can in a bad situation.
As I read those words aloud, my heart sank and I knew I did not want to read this story. My beautiful brown-skinned boys were looking eagerly at the illustration of Jackie in his baseball uniform and the last thing I wanted to introduce them to was racism. How could I possibly explain that there was a time in our nation’s history when black people did not have the same rights as whites? But this is their truth, the reality of the world they live in and one day they too will face racism — I won’t always be able to protect them.
I plowed onward hoping that the issues might skim right over their ability to understand. At one point I paused and added my own emphasis about how horrible it was that there were people who didn’t think Jackie Robinson should play baseball with white players.
On I read, but then I got to this,
Some of the players said ugly things to him. Some refused to stand on the same field with him. Newspapers claimed he would not be able to play baseball well enough to stay on a white team. He was locked out of ballparks. In one town, a policeman even threatened to arrest him if he did not leave the field.
My throat got tighter — my voice climbed a little higher and by that last sentence the lump in my throat prevented me from reading at all. I paused and then Sunshine’s little voice flowed past mine,
These things hurt Jackie’s feelings deeply…
And on she read telling the story I couldn’t tell. I’m not sure Eby and Little Man understood it, but sadly, one day they will.
Question: Have you or your children encountered racism? Have you found a positive means of dealing with it?
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