Before we were matched up with Alemitu, we told the boys that their sister would have darker skin. We told them that she is darker because she is from Ethiopia and that is the way God made her. We've even heard them repeat this explanation to their friends who have asked why their sister is different.
We never wanted to introduce race issues until we needed to. The boys have never been concerned, and I think that is due to the fact that they have friends of all races so it isn't shocking to them to see people of different colors. The boys don't even know that they are considered to be white.
This afternoon I received an e-mail from Calvin's teacher talking about a really neat experiment she did in class about prejudice. They have been talking about Martin Luther King, Jr., and so today she gave all the boys in the class fun things but never gave them to the girls. The experiment worked well, but after reading the e-mail I knew it was time to talk about race.
I asked who Martin Luther King was, and Calvin was quick to correct me and say that I needed to say "Jr." at the end of his name. Good point. Wes then followed up by saying he knows a short way to spell "junior". After this, I decided to start again and asked why Martin Luther King Jr. was so important. Calvin talked about how there used to be "white only" signs up and MLK, Jr. didn't like that. Wes said MLK, Jr. had something to do with reading. It was evident that Calvin's class had discussed this issue more thoroughly.
So I dropped the bombshell. "Do you know your sister is black?" Jaws dropped to the ground. They had no clue. This kind of surprised me. Wes then asked why she is black when her skin is brown. Excellent point. We talked about how we are white and Allie's mommy and daddy are black and so that is why she is black. We talked about different colors of people, and the boys were adamant each time that it doesn't matter what color someone is -- we are the same inside. I love that they felt so strongly about this without me saying it first.
In the end, Calvin summed it up perfectly by saying that because all three of them are so silly on the inside, then they are the same and it doesn't matter what color their skin is. Love it! Wes then said, "I love my sister and never want her to leave because I want her to play with me forever. (then he pauses) And we are white -- um wait mom --- so ... is our dad black?" It was so hard to not start laughing. I love, love, love their innocence and blindness to color.
We are so grateful for what Martin Luther King, Jr. has done. It has allowed us to have our mixed family. I can't imagine life without my little Alemitu.