“What language were those people speaking?” my four-year-old asked me as we were driving home from Aldi this morning. He was talking about the couple I had a brief exchange with on our way out of the store.
“English,” I said. “They speak English, like us.”
“They speak English?” he asked.
“Yes, they speak our language but they have a different dialect — they speak Black English.”
There were no more questions. Until evening.
After dinner we read Coming Home: from the life of Langston Hughes. In the book, Floyd Cooper explained that Langston Hughes’ father went to live in Mexico because, as a black man, he was not allowed to practice law in Oklahoma.
“Because he speaks Black English?” my four-year-old asked.
Living in a biracial household, I think it’s more important than ever to address my children’s questions about race and skin color and culture head-on. And they get a dose of Black History Month each February. I make up the ‘curriculum’ as I go.
This year, we started out with reading a picture book version of The Negro Speaks of Rivers and then moved on to the biography of the author of the poem, Langston Hughes. I’m still looking for ideas of what topics to cover this month. That’s part of the adventure. I am expecting some interesting conversations along the way.