Bedtime stories are complicated for black families. Take Addy. I will never forget page 23 of 'Meet Addy: An American Girl.' Addy is forced, by an overseerer with a whip in his hands, to eat live worms that she missed while tending tobacco plants.
I came to page 23 while reading aloud to my 6-year-old daughter. She was tucked beneath a patchwork quilt. Her room had two lovely windows looking out onto a pear tree. There was a three-story dollhouse that looked just like our pink townhouse down to the sponge-painted interior walls. Her head was resting on a floral Laura Ashley pillow.
When I got to the part in the story where Addy's Poppa was sold, Caroline's brown eyes looked worried. When we got to the live worms exploding in Addy's mouth, I saw tears.
My daughter asked me to keep reading. She wanted to know what happened. I wasn't sure if I should keep reading. Was Caroline old enough to take in the harsh realities of slavery and stolen childhood? Was Addy stealing my daughter's innocence?
We kept reading.
You can keep reading this essay at Black Voices.
By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the Black Voices/AOL people, which is one of the great ways she's bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room's authors.