"I'm afraid of going to school in Georgia Mommy," Johnny told me the other day. I assumed he was just being a Mommy's boy and wanted to stay home with me or maybe he was just nervous about starting kindergarten.
"I think my teacher will be scary," he continued. "What if she has a brown face?"
Did that really just come out of my kid's mouth?
I grew up in a household of complete tolerance and acceptance. Probably one of the most important things my parents taught my sister and me, was to love all people--regardless of our differences.
We lived a few miles from Baltimore City. My high school sat about 1 mile from the Baltimore City line. About half of my classmates were white--the rest were African American. I never gave diversity a second thought. It's just how I grew up. My dad was a principal of a school in a low-income community near the city. He spent countless hours and resources mentoring and almost fathering some of the less fortunate kids.
That way of growing up left a lasting on impression. Tolerance. Open-mindedness. And above all, an utter lack of fear of people who are different.
Living away from Baltimore for almost a decade, I think I almost forgot my roots. For seven years we lived in a small mostly white town in Central Pennsylvania and then for another two years we lived in an affluent suburb in Chicago. I had no idea what effect this lack of diversity had on our kids until Johnny's statement.
I couldn't blame Johnny for being nervous about people who were different. I blamed myself. We had never really talked about people's differences and he definitely wasn't exposed to different cultures.
This move to Georgia is going to be a good thing.