Monday, April 20, 2015
Imagining the Past
One of the benefits of homeschooling that I really love is that we can often venture down rabbit trails. We were talking about farming and southern plantation life during the Civil War era, when one of my kids asked where we would fit into society if we had lived during that time. I easily answered that realistically we would most likely live in town and be a business owner. Maybe shopkeepers? Lawyers, coopers, or printers perhaps? We would absolutely be acceptable in our own social circle, but much to one of my daughter's chagrin, we would not likely ever be invited to any events held at the plantations. My eldest daughter grumbled, but I assured her that we would have made sure she married well. It got a good laugh from her siblings. As I surveyed the laughing faces, it struck me. Not all of us would fare quite as well.
Mr. Clean with his handsome Viking features and icy blue eyes would fit right in. Xena matches her father in looks and sports blonde locks. K.Z. has my father's native look and bone structure, but with his freckled skin still looks like he could walk right out of my mother's native Scotland. Carisa also matches my father, but if we keep her under a large brim hat and out of the sun, we can keep her light winter shade. But my youngest boys? Where would they fit in during the Antebellum years? My heart sunk.
I decided to get real with the kids and be honest about how our family would actually look. Eazy, my nine year old has the prominent look of Spanish aristocracy, but with an olive complexion. His dark hair and eyes help to give away his hispanic heritage. My baby, the seven year old Das, has the look of his Puerto Rican ancestors and more resembles the Taino tribe that historically inhabited the island. As a baby he was a paler version of himself, but as he has grown his melanin has found its perfect level, leaving his skin a gorgeous copper brown. That reality would have made my youngest boys very unequal in society in our imaginary Antebellum family scenario.
We talked for a while about the way just even by boys would have been treated differently from one another. Eazy would have faired much better, with his features looking more European, despite his Spanish complexion. Das would most likely have been treated much worse. More than likely they would have been free men, but certainly not held as part of "polite society".
I had never thought about how my boys would have been treated historically, but I have thought a lot about their futures. Right now I can protect my boys from the nonsense the world can throw out there because they are darker than their parents. I hope I can equip them to deal with any of it they may deal with as adults, out there on their own. I pray that by that time, it won't even be an issue.