I brought my children to preschool/childcare two hours late today. Instead of rushing out the door, we sat in front of the television to watch as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of our country.
I know my kids are perhaps too young to understand the importance of this historic event, but I wanted them to see the images on the screen, to hear the cheers and applause, to feel the wave of excitement that swept over the crowds of people in Washington D.C.
Like others who watched the inauguration, I cried as I listened to Obama’s words and marveled at the fact that we have elected the first African American president in our nation’s history.
I get especially emotional about this because my children are biracial -- just like our new president.
At this point in their lives, my children don’t understand what this means and what the implications are to be a person of color. They don’t comprehend what Obama meant when he stated in his inaugural address: “This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall. And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”
As someone who was born in the early ‘70s, I, too, can’t completely comprehend what it was like for people of color to suffer the indignity of having to sit in the back of the bus or get water from separate drinking fountains. But early on, my teachers helped me realize that this was a piece of history that I needed to know and understand and to never forget.
In some ways, there’s a part of me that wishes my children will remain “colorblind” as they get older, but to raise them in that manner would be naïve on my part. No matter how much I want to protect them, I’m almost positive my kids won’t be lucky enough to elude discrimination and intolerance at some point in their lives.
But I digress. I guess my point is that although my children didn’t comprehend every word of the inaugural address, I think they were still able to recognize in their own way that something important happened today -- that a new leader was sworn in and that there’s something special, something significant about the election of “Ba-ma,” as my 2-year-old refers to the president.
I don’t know how to talk to my children about race at this point. But in order to start that conversation someday, I knew it was important for them to witness this moment in history.
How about you? Did your children watch the inauguration at school or at home? What kind of discussions did your family have about the event?