Kids are being made, kids are being born, kids are growing up. As I get older more and more of my friends are having kids of their own. From my precociously perfect goddaughters to baby Robin just a few days old (welcome little one!) I have lots of friends taking the brave and not-so-easy road of bringing new humans into the world. It isn’t easy, and I have lots of respect for what it takes to be a parent. And sometimes, I feel blown away by how well some of my friends are doing with this difficult task – not only raising their kids with love, but also empowering them to courageously speak their truths and see past historical injustice. My friend Pakou comes to mind, who often shares the heart-wrenching and insightful conversations her girls have about race and privilege. And today, I saw a beautiful illustration of this in a Facebook post from my friend and one of my role models, Nickie Sekera, about her son 10-year-old Luke.
Here’s what he wrote … I think it’s so important it bears repeating. From an assignment about Tom Sawyer:
Important Character: Injun Joe
Description in Relation to Main Character: evil, sly and terrorizing. But, I think he is a racist stereotype of Indians.
That’s right! Spot on, Luke. Bravo for so gracefully answering the question that was asked – because yes, school does require that – but more importantly answering the question that wasn’t asked, but should be. Bravo for thinking critically about the characters in the book, and what they say about the broader social context. Bravo for using a simple part of a literature assignment to make a larger and more important point.
Outside of the classroom, Luke and his mom have been fighting to protect water rights in their community in Maine, (check out their Change.org petition to prevent Nestle from signing a 45-year contract in Fryeburg, Maine) and working in solidarity with native communities in the Northeast. Luke isn’t just questioning social stereotypes, he’s living in a way that advocates for a better life for future generations. I know those are cliched ideas that get thrown around, but to me Luke is authentically doing it. It gives me hope and makes me think – the kids are alright.