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Patchwork Heritage
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Tears filled my eyes as I watched the Presidential Inauguration of Barak Obama. I honestly didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime—that an African American would become president.

One sentence from his inaugural address has stuck in my mind all day: “For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness." 1

I don’t remember this, but my mom tells me that when I was growing up in the sixties, our hometown had a strictly white population. It seems unbelievable now, but there was a city ordinance that stated Blacks were not allowed to stay in our town. They could only pass through during daylight hours. She remembers one evening when our family was getting gas at a local station. A black family pulled up to get gas, too. After the attendant filled their car, he said to the dad, “You’d better get on out of here. This town has an ordinance that doesn’t allow blacks to stay overnight.”

I wonder how his backseat full of children felt. It wasn’t fair. Because our skin was white, we could get ice cream, walk the shops, and play in the park at dusk. But those kids had to rush out of town.

Fortunately, our children can grow up in a different kind of world. And I’m happy that my own child has been raised in a patchwork community, goes to a patchwork school, and attends a patchwork church. She has friends who are African American, Hispanic, and Asian. They have all come to our house to play through the years—and her life is richer because of them.

Helping Children be Accepting

Here are some things we can do to help our children be more accepting of our country’s “patchwork heritage:”

  • Speak highly of our President and first family. Learn more about them together.
  • Learn about children from other countries. Go to your library and check out books that show pictures and tell the customs of children around the world.
  • Study heroes of other nationalities. Your library and the internet are good places to begin.
  • Cook recipes from other countries. Look through cookbooks or online recipes with your kids and cook the meal together.
  • Donate to missions. ADRA’s website shows areas of needs for which your family can raise the money. Compassion International has children from around the world you can sponsor.
  • Befriend a local family of another nationality.
  • Take your family on a mission trip. Talk to your local pastor for resources.
  • Set the example yourself. Know that eyes are watching how you treat people of different races, and ears are listening to how you speak of them.
  • Study your own family tree.
I did some research recently and found out that our daughter is a mixture of Norwegian, French Canadian, Pennsylvania Dutch, British, Cherokee, and Irish. She looks like a typical Caucasian. But in reality, she’s just like every other American girl—a “patchwork kid!

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28751183/page/2/

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