Today at the Green Memorial AME Zion church, the reverend said to a very ethnically mixed congregation, that Sunday is still the most segregated day of the week.
Reverend Lewis said a lot of things that landed in an uh-huh place.
But that was definitely one that I could include here without fear of misquoting, or speaking outside of my area of expertise or system of beliefs. He went on to say that this church was founded on a belief that people of any hue are invited to worship here. This was very evident at the early service this morning. I have read elsewhere that church is one of the most segregated events that takes place across the country today.
Maybe because of his words, or because today is the last day of Black History Month (on the calendar), or because of my increased ability to say that which I need to, I spoke up at the birthday party. Not a party for me. Not the splash party we were at this morning for one of Marcel’s friends. But, at a gathering of writers, many of whom write for the under eight set, one of whom turned forty last week.
And one of whom has the honor of having written one of my sons’ most requested titles of the moment. I praised the story, the magic and the history of the adventure within. Then, out of that place of heat and discomfort that I find myself in more and more I made a request; Would you include children of color in your next story? I belted out, over the band playing at the other end of the gallery. So, my children, two of your biggest fans, who sleep under a poster of your book by their bed, can see themselves in your magic too?
This writer was completely tuned into my words. The other folks around us chimed in with reasons that this, and kids like that, which really just faded out around us. He looked at Sam. Then he asked me if Sam related to the white characters in the book.
I want him to see himself, I said. I don’t buy books that don’t have characters of color in them. Your book was a gift that slipped through my censors before I read it.
I’ve read his other books, and found one girl at a parade, and one man looking out a window. Sam thought the gorilla in the current book was supposed to be a black man. I told him that I grew up on the Golliwog books. I told him that I understood that my thinking has evolved a lot in the last five years.
He thanked me for talking to him, for bringing it up. He assured me he would take all of my words in to consideration. I absolutely believe that he will, and I thanked him for being so responsive. I invited him to run his next book by Sam and Marcel if he needs a test audience.
On a related but seperate note, I want to point everyone who has not seen it yet to an amazing article over at Racialicious; called How to Raise A Racist Child. It has been popping up in about every conversation I’ve had recently.