Monday, January 19, 2015

Of Dreams and Jellybeans

Back when I was an art teacher I devised a lesson plan for my Studio Art class. I wanted them to pick a speech, lyrics, or words that meant something to them. Then, we were going to transform those words into art. My example, was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his I Have A Dream speech. I honestly couldn't think of a more powerful collection of words. The result, was the above drawing, done by me painstakingly hand written out using Sharpie markers of variant colors to express the magnitude of those words.

I have a dream. Those four words put together can inspire so much raw emotion in us all. We can think back to the injustices that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood up against and all of the people who fought against inequality. I can't imagine my kids growing up in a school that isn't as diverse as it is, benefitting from the culture that each race and ethnicity brings to the forefront in education. A multicultural classroom helps our children grow in so many ways not only academically but socially and emotionally.

My four year old daughter Heidi asked me "Why does my friend Aaliyah have darker skin?" I've said this to my older two before but couldn't remember how I phrased it. I said "Because there are all kinds of people all over the world that are different that come from different places. What makes them different, makes them unique and that is what makes them special" I glanced in the rearview mirror hoping what I had said made some sense.

She was still hung up on the differences in their skin not because of ignorance but because she is four. At four you are just starting to realize that there are other people in the room that you may be playing in. They are learning what it means to share and cooperate and that can be hard. What I wanted to tell her was that there really is no difference between her and Aaliyah and that it was the content of their character that mattered but how do you explain that to a threenager? Candy. Kids understand candy.

What's your favorite flavor of jellybean? I asked.
Cherry! She shouted.
Then you are Cherry.
What is another flavor that you like?
Then Aaliyah is like Lemon.
All of your friends are like all different flavors. Each one is good but for different reasons. Put them all together and they make everything even more wonderful.
They are like a rainbow! she yelled.
Yes, exactly. A beautiful rainbow.

Of course, we'll revisit that someday when school can reinforce what we are trying to teach. We will be sure by seven, like my daughter Sarah displays that "No person has the right to rain on your dreams" I love this. Our dreams, our aspirations locked in a singular moment of marker against paper, solidifying that this marker is here to stay and so are my dreams.

I love to see that Sarah is going to be a peacemaker at home by sharing with her little sister. I will be sure to remind her to "Be like Doctor King" the next time she doesn't want to let Heidi play with Ballerina Barbie

 I am buoyed by this quality in her that really seeks to help others and that her aspirations include planting a garden that can sustain people that have no food. Dreams are wonderful. Dreams keep the hope alive. Those dreams are backed by words. Powerful, magical words that when written by a child just makes you stop and remember that you too have dreams and remind you how much you believe in jellybeans.

A photo taken by my mom in Miami Beach after meeting Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. 

1 comment:

  1. I think you handled that really well. I like the jellybean example and I think it seemed like something your daughter could grasp.