adoptive parenting · birth mother · classical conversations · human trafficking · life is messy · racism · transracial adoption

Mommy? What is slavery?

Last Thursday was our first day back to our Classical Conversations Community after winter break. It was a crazy day, and it ended with a visit to a friend we hadn’t seen in a while, homemade pizza, and the Little Man and I both crashing by 8:30.

Part of CC is learning a timeline of historical events; we learn 7 new events each week. One of those events last week was “Slave Trade in Africa.” Because I’m a tutor, I have a set of really nice timeline cards, each with a painting-like picture for each event, and a blurb on the back that explains said event. After community every Thursday, I hang those cards in our dining/homeschool room so our kiddo can look at them every day while he practices the song that goes along with the timeline.

At dinner Friday night, the three of us are eating and chatting (I can’t even remember the topic of conversation) when suddenly he asks, “Mommy, what’s slavery?”

Keith said later it was as if time slowed down and he could see the innocence of our child slowly draining from his eyes.

I don’t think it’s entirely relevant *what* we said to our son for this post; if you have specific questions because you are dealing with this in your home, please email me. But what is relevant is that transracial adoption never goes away. Racism still exists. We had to explain to our innocent six year old that people won’t like him just because his skin is brown.

We explained what slavery was, historically. We explained what the timeline card, specifically, referred to (the slave trade in Africa circa 1440 AD). We explained that slavery in that fashion doesn’t exist in Indiana today, and, in fact, Indiana fought for the “good guys” in the Civil War. We explained the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights.

(we did not take this opportunity to explain human trafficking and modern day slavery. some things are just TOO mature for a recently turned six year old, in our parenting opinion)

(we had explored the Civil War a great deal this summer – there are two wonderful museums in Indianapolis that deal extensively with this part of history, and he found them fascinating at various points this year)

We talked about what the Bible has to say about humans owning other humans. We talked about what to do if a person threatened to enslave him (based off of his questions) versus what to do if he was ever told to stop by the police. Because, unfortunately, how a Black man reacts to the police is a very real, life-changing event in too many lives.

Then he was up for two hours in the middle of the night, “just because,” needing extensive cuddles.

Uggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Racism is stupid. And painful. And makes me weep for humanity.

He also wanted to know why doing chores for us, for free, didn’t make him a slave.

That was a thought provoking question, and something we had to talk about seriously. It also inspired a conversation about why his birth mother would choose white parents for him.

And on Monday, while having quite the interesting discussion on Henry Ford, Keith told us that the Ford family owns the Detroit Lions football team.

“Daddy, men aren’t supposed to own other men. That is wrong.”


At least he heard something positive.


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