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Friendship Bouquet

When my son was in kindergarten, he made a friend. We were living in Virginia. He returned from school one day bouncing with joy. “I have a best friend,” he announced. “He has a Superman shirt and shoes just like me, and he has a lunch box like me. We’re just alike!”

Exchanging phone calls, Marvin’s mom and I arranged a day when Marvin could get off the bus at our house. When the two boys scampered off the bus, I was so surprised. Marvin was as black as my son was white. Marvin’s complexion was dark chocolate and my son’s was white ice cream. When I took Marvin home, his mom and I laughed our heads off. We were so delighted with their friendship. The boys enjoyed playing together and they loved having sleepovers. 

A few months later, the boys were no longer sitting together on the bus. I asked my son what was wrong. “The other kids said we shouldn’t like each other,” he said. “Then they called us names.”

He didn’t understand. But I did. It broke my heart. Racism had shattered their relationship. As I worked on this painting, I envisioned Marvin. He is the child with the biggest smile. 

That’s how I remember him when he and my son looked “just alike.”