07 November 2008

Hope for a New Generation

The Offspring and I regularly walk past the placards in the sidewalk on 135th Street commemorating the heroes of the Civil Rights movement. He frequently asks questions, and I've gradually told him some things about the people commemorated there -- David Dinkins, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Malcolm X are just a few -- and their work for civil rights.

That, of course, meant I had to back up a little bit and explain about the history of slavery and racism in our country. How do you talk about that to a five-year-old? A little at a time, like everything else.

And then one day he asked: Mama, will they put Obama here?

I choked back tears as I told him if he won the presidential election, maybe they would.

I marched against war in Iraq early in 2003. I was already pregnant, but having given up on having children after ten years of trying, it would take me a few more weeks to catch on. The Offspring was born -- a miracle! -- but I have often felt a heavy sorrow at the state of the world into which he had come.

This week, for the first time since he was born, I feel we've done something to offer hope to the new generation.