Monday, April 27, 2009

The times they are a changin’.

Look at the picture to the left. Is this not the most Caucasian family in America right now. Not quite as Aryan as the Stinsons mind you. But quite Caucasian nontheless.

I went to McDonalds last Friday night for the same reason any parent goes to McDonalds. It is a place where my kids can play and they don't need constant supervision. While the Playplace at McDonalds has numerous discarded band-aids and is kind of sticky on the inside Kara and I have deemed it a safe place for our children. We went to the McDonalds in Forestdale because it has one of the cleaner Playplaces in the area and it is right down the road from our crib. I noticed something very encouraging while watching my kids play.

Billy is five years old. He is starting to interact with other people the way people interact. He can engage in conversation with other people who are able to engage in conversation. James Robert not so much. (Sidenote: I think I have found a suitable nick name for James Robert because I think all males should have a nick name. He will walk up to me and make a low barking noise that a catfish will make when it is out of water. Think about it. Catfish Kinnaird. Kind of cool and alliterative to boot.)

My kids were the only white kids there. I guess all of the white kids were playing at the Chick-Fil-A in Gardendale. I think it might be safe to say that we are the whitest family in America. I was worried that any offspring Kara and I would produce would be white to the point of transparency. I could have sworn that Catfish was born with a sunburn. I watched as Billy played with these little black boys and girls without any thought that he was different from all of the kids there. He was just as bossy with them as he is with most people. I remarked to Kara what a cool thing this was. I couldn't tell that he thought any thing about them being any different than he was.

I remember the first black kid that I talked to. I was six. You may think this odd since I grew up in Bessemer but I did not go to school with any other black kids until the 7th grade. This was made possible because Bessemer annexed an area and about 30 black kids were now zoned for Greenwood Elementary school. Race was something I was aware of even at an early age. I knew that black kids existed when I was six. I watched The Electric Company. There were no black kids in my neighborhood. There were no black kids in my church. I distinctly remember being a little uncomfortable talking to this little kid that was my age. He seemed a little uncomfortable too. This was nearly 30 years ago. A generation removed from what I witnessed at the Playplace tonight.

Billy had no thought that any thing was different about those kids that he was playing with. I don't think that Billy is even aware that a work like nigger even exists. Sadly I cannot say the same for my own childhood. This has got to be just a little encouraging. Maybe by the time Billy gets a chance to fill in a dot to choose a president he will not think it odd in the least that he is electing the first black Republican for president. I think the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. had about people not judging a person based on the color of their skin but on the content of their character starts with little black boys and little white boys playing together in a Playplace in Birmingham Alabama with no consideration other than it is cool to take turns throwing a toy up the slide and watching it roll back down. The dream will not be realized in political debates and affirmative action programs. It will not be realized because blacks and whites can march together for a common cause. It will be realized when no one notices that their kids are the only white kids playing at a Playplace full of little black kids.

The Apostle Paul had a dream similar to that of MLK. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, rich nor poor, male nor female, slave nor free. Just one family of children washed clean by the blood of Christ. Just a bunch of kids at a Playplace throwing stuff up a slide because it is better than doing it alone.


Anonymous said...

Progress is a wonderful thing. It's nice to see people treating people - like people.

Chris Barnette said...

"I was born a poor black child" wait that was Steve Martin in the "Jerk" Awesome movie by the way. As you guys can tell by my accent I am not from these parts. I was actually raised in the suburbs of Washington DC. I have lived around African Americans for most of my life. As a mattter of fact the my neighbors( in Adamsville) to the left and right are Black. Never really understood the whole racism issue untill I saw "Roots" back in the
70's Wow! How far we have come. Great post!