Parenting Awareness: ‘Race’ Talk #1
Well, my daughter is officially three now and not too long after her birthday in July she started pointing out colors on people and asking some questions about our colors. Was I nervous? No. Recognizing our differences and varying colors is normal and I would be worried if she didn’t ask. It’s great that she’s asking because that means that I have the opportunity to help mold her perception of those differences.
So a few weeks back, it started with my daughter picking up a magazine, one of those clothing catalogs, with a mixed Latina woman in it.
She looks up at me and says excitedly, “Mama, this is like daddy.”
I asked her to explain and she pointed to the woman’s brown eyes and black hair. She is starting to associate colors with people and I think that’s just fine.
I told her, “Yes, she does look like daddy, because they have the same color hair and eyes.”
Then today, we were doing our normal morning tasks and she tells me “Mama, you’re not black like Mufasa” (she calls her dad Mufasa sometimes –Lion King obsession).
Wondering why she classified him this way, I asked her “And why is Mufasa black?”
She points to her head, “Mufasa has black hair!”
She loves her daddy’s beautiful dark hair…sometimes I think it’s her favorite feature, besides his eyes, which match her beautiful brown eyes. Her description of her dad as ‘black’ may be puzzling to some, but it’s the way that our three year old chose to identify him…in a way that made sense to her.
Then I ask her, “And what color is mama?”
Her reply? “Banana”. A surprise again.
When I ask her what color she is, she has to think about it. “Hmmm…I just a little brown.”
She says this so matter-of-factly. “Little brown” likely because when we say our colors there is a daddy, mommy and baby color. Each shade lighter is a smaller family member…daddy of course, being the “darkest” color…which means the baby color is the lightest.
So is this all a bit strange? To some it might seem so, but for me, I love hearing the way she discusses color…without all of society’s ridiculous stigmas and classifications. As she gets older, more discussions will come…and more understanding. We take it step by step. When she ask questions and points out color, we don’t hush her, we encourage her. Partly because her unbiased perspective is so refreshing and partly because we want her to learn to talk about these things from us. Let’s face facts, we must talk about race, because if we don’t, they’ll hear it somewhere else and learn to apply the WRONG values. We parents are responsible for instilling the RIGHT ones. It’s important to acknowledge the conversation when your kids bring it up and it’s also important to start young and start with simpler topics like color…because we want our kids to know that these topics aren’t “off limits” so they’ll refer to us first when the tougher concepts come into question.
Share your parenting awareness with us…have you talked to your kids about color, ‘race’, etc? I’d love to hear your stories too. :)