Popular TV host Art Linkletter, an icon of afternoon TV in the middle of the last century, had a segment on his show in which he interviewed kids on various topics…and the responses they gave ranged from amazing to hilarious. This led to his compiling some of the best of them in a book he titled KIDS SAY THE DARNEDEST THINGS.
Linkletter was right. They do. And I had proof of it again just yesterday.
I’ve had over 100 books published. (If you’re curious about specifics, I invite you to visit my website at www.cynthiamacgregor.com.) I write for both kids and adults. In the course of promoting some of my books for kids, I visit pre-schools, after-school centers, and other venues that provide me with a young audience.
Yesterday I was at an after-school center, reading to a familiar group of first- and second-graders whom I’ve read to quite a few times before. For reasons irrelevant to this tale, instead of reading one of my own books, as I normally do, I was doing a friend a favor and reading one of his books. I introduced the book saying it was written by “my friend Michael,” and at a couple of other points during some prefatory remarks I reiterated that this was not one of my books but had been written by “my friend Michael.” I showed the kids Michael’s picture, which accompanies his author bio on one of the back pages of the book. Relevant to what I am about to tell you, the picture clearly depicts a Black man. I am White.
Well, I read the book, and it was a short one, so afterward I said, “We have a few minutes left. Let’s talk about future careers. What do you all want to be when you grow up? Raise your hands.”
The first few answers were predictable: Doctor. Teacher. Police officer. Then we got into uncharted waters when two boys each said they wanted to grow up to be “a shark” and a little girl said, “An elephant.”
At that point I thought nothing could top those answers…but I was wrong.
I called on an earnest young fellow with a serious expression and said, “OK, what do YOU want to be when you grow up?” and he answered, “Your brother Michael.”
I gently reminded him that Michael is my FRIEND, NOT MY BROTHER. I marveled at the workings of a child’s mind that he thought he could grow up to become someone’s brother.
But the best part of all was his total color blindness!
Michael, as his picture that the kids all saw made clear, is African-American. I am Caucasian. Yes, it is possible to have siblings of different races—especially if they are only half-sibs by blood, but also if they have one Black parent and one White parent, and one child takes after the Black parent while the other one takes after the White one.
But that doesn’t happen very often. You don’t usually see siblings of differing races.
This kid, however, in no way saw any reason why Michael and I could not be brother and sister. And not a single kid in the group corrected him or made a comment questioning the likelihood of it happening.
God bless “color-blind” kids. I wonder how long he will stay that way? Dare I hope we’re raising a generation of kids who won’t discriminate?
It would be wonderful!