Yesterday morning my daughter awoke to the sound of me singing softly in her ear.
“I love your beautiful brown hair…I love your beautiful brown eyes…I love your beautiful brown skin…” Not really a song, I suppose. Just something sweet that came to my mind to help her welcome the new day.
It didn’t bother her that I don’t have any singing talent. It was simply one of those sweet “daddy daughter moments” that seem to be ever more infrequent as she gets older and life gets more hurried.
As she came to she rolled over and stretched and then said, “Daddy, I have a question.”
“Sure, what is it?”
“If Martin Luther King hadn’t given that speech – you know the one, right?”
“Of course…” I replied, interested to hear what was coming next.
“The ‘Dream’ speech , you know? And if he hadn’t gotten the laws changed…would I be considered black or white – because I am really in between?”
Wow, that wasn’t what I was expecting for the first question of the morning from my seven-year old daughter whom we adopted from Guatemala years ago.
“That’s a great question,” I replied. “You know, if he hadn’t given that speech and together with others hadn’t spoken up for the rights of all people to be treated fairly and equally, then a lot of things would be very different today. In fact, white mommies and daddies like us may not have been allowed to adopt brown and black children, and that means that our family may not have even been possible.”
“So you mean that you and mommy wouldn’t have been able to adopt us just because I am brown and so are my brothers?” she asked, wanting to clarify.
“And what about my school? Would it be a ‘white’ school or a ‘black’ school?” she continued.
“Oh, I don’t know…but it sounds like you have been thinking a lot about what you have been learning at school,” I said.
“Yeh. I am really glad he gave that speech,” she continued.
“I am too; I am too.”
This brief conversation was a timely reminder of what can be very easy to forget. Not so long ago what I too often take for granted – the fundamental equality of all people under the law – was only still a dream in this country. But because men and women, boys and girls of every color joined hands to dream and to march and even to die, today my family, together with so many other transracial families, are able to be a family and live that dream.
And yet we can never forget that the dream is not fully realized – and it won’t be this side of heaven. So the challenge remains for each of us to be counted worthy and found faithful to fight against injustice wherever it is found, until all of God’s children, in the words of Dr. King, “will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”