I was born in the spring of 1975 . Or, as Caroline calls it, “LAST CENTURY”.
I lived in a town about 30 minutes south of Atlanta and I was a kindergartener in 1981. If you haven’t checked out my About page, I’m pretty much as white as they come. And everyone around me looked just the same.
I remember only two black kids out of ALL the kindergarten classes, Damiean Bradley and Tellis Holloway. And the reason I can remember their names? Because they were the ONLY ones. There were probably less than 20 black students in the entire school back in 1981; kindergarten through sixth grade.
The only playground I ever played on was the one at school. And I never played with Damiean or Tellis, but that’s more than likely because they were boys and didn’t want to sit inside of the fort and play house with us girls.
There was no neighborhood or city playground anywhere near our house. And at home? I just played alone because my sisters were so much older than me. And were lying on their canopy beds listening to music while talking on their phones shaped like red lips.
Nevertheless, five days a week I was playing on the playground at school. Where there were only two black boys and everyone else was exactly like me.
As white as can be.
I never saw an Asian child. Never met an Indian girl. I didn’t see any Latinos. Not even in books.
And then a few weeks ago, I, once again, took our two youngest girls to a nearby park one evening. It was there that I noticed something. It has been there all along actually (and one of the main reasons we moved here, a suburb north of Atlanta), but that day really opened my eyes to how things are completely different at the playground for my girls.
The playground was full of giggling little ones.
There was an Asian girl playing with Josephine. (Who made me chuckle by asking “What kind of name is THAT?!” when I said Caroline’s name) There were Indian families. There was a Latina mom pushing her daughter on the swing. We said hello to a mom in a hijab. There were two black boys playing tag with Caroline and a dad in a turban racing his kids in the field.
It was beautifully fantastic. It made me so happy to be living where we do.
Y’all I didn’t see a woman in a hijab UNTIL MY SENIOR YEAR OF COLLEGE. Now my kids see them nearly every day. That may not sound like such a big deal to some, but when you’re a white girl from the 70s who only saw two African American boys in school growing up? It’s pretty dang amazing.
I’m so thankful that our girls get to grow up and play with so many various cultures, backgrounds and people. And I love this community for it’s diversity (and abundance of playgrounds!).
EVERYTHING is different these days.
Even the playground.
I appreciate it and I won’t be taking it for granted.