As my girls grow up, they will learn about a few of the more embarrassing moments in our nation’s history. And I expect they’ll ask questions. But for the most part, I’ll be prepared to respond because I can point to the progress that followed.
They will learn that their great-grandmother Lillie delivered a son, their Grandpa Rod, in a Japanese-American relocation camp during World War II. Initially, they might be shocked that this is part of America’s past. But I’ll be able to tell them, ”I think a lesson was learned from that experience, and it won’t happen again.”
They will learn that couples of different races, like their grandparents, were once denied the right to marry. But at least I’ll be able to say, “Thanks to a Virginia couple named Richard and Mildred Loving, things are better now.”
At some point, they will hear the term “separate but equal,” and will learn there was a time when their father would not have been able to go to the same school or sit in the same restaurant with many of the same friends that he now shares an N.F.L. locker room with. But then I can say to them, “That was a long time ago, and look how far we’ve come.”
I anticipate us having similar conversations about women’s suffrage or Rosa Parks. And each time, I’ll be able to say that this country moved toward progress. Sometimes, change is slow, but when we know better, we do better.
…I recently received a message from a friend who has been in a committed relationship with her partner for eight years: ‘Pretty much my entire adult life I’ve always felt like I should settle for not having similar rights because I’m old enough to see how far we’ve come. I’ve grown accustomed to it. But I so hope it changes for the next generation because I hate to think that because they love, they should feel ‘less than.’ ‘
I don’t ever want to explain to my daughters that some ‘versions’ of love are viewed as ‘less than’ others. I’m not prepared to answer that kind of question.
Instead, in just a few short years, and in the same way we now sometimes ask the previous generation, I hope my daughters will ask me: ‘What was all the fuss about back then?’ I’m looking forward to hearing that question.”