I was online buying books in less than a minute after I saw Metro United Way's Facebook post about the Books & Barbershops initiative. My happiest parenting moments have been snuggling up with my boys and sharing a story. Likewise, some of my fondest memories are of me curled up in the lap of one of my parents and listening to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or one of the Narnia books. My hope is for every child to experience that.
The very first book in my shopping cart: The Colors of Us. My oldest son and I must have read that together a thousand times. Such an important book for a peachy, freckly, somewhat splotchy mom to read to her creamy, latte'-toned, flawlessly smooth-skinned toddler. No two people are exactly the same color. And the complexion descriptions are endless! But they are all beautiful. And no one flavor or shade is better than the other.
This was a refrain and understanding that we lived, breathed and believed in our household from the moment Ethan came home. As a family, we were never going to "be the same." Other people who looked at us would always know that our family was different. Ethan wasn't going to have my nose, or my eye color and obviously not my hair. But we were all going to have the same understanding: the color of our skin doesn't define our place in the world.
Reading isn't just about literacy, comprehension and future school success, though those things are vitality important. The act of reading with a child is an act of love, security, and belonging. The time a child spends in a trusted adult's lap absorbing stories of adventure, identity, and challenge while in the comfort of a parent's lap is a sacred time that helps children develop skills to approach and withstand life's journey.
I pray the stories of civil rights activists Martin, Ruby, Malcolm and Rosa as well as many others will walk with Ethan for his whole life. I hope that he will draw upon the lessons he has absorbed from them as well as remember the comfort of his loving parents holding him as he heard them. I hope Ethan also understands that his story is just as important as anyone else's on this earth. This is why the Books & Barbershops initiative which is part of the Black Male Achievement movement is so important to me and why I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.
Carrie Gerard lives in Prospect, Kentucky with her husband, Brian, her two sons Ethan and Graham. Ethan was born in the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, California on July 12th, 2000. Brian and Carrie brought him home eight days later to Montgomery, Alabama. They have lived in Louisville since 2002. Carrie serves as the Executive Director of Eastern Area Community Ministries and Brian is the Senior Minister at First Christian Church, Louisville.