“People with black skin are scary!”
We’ve reached the stage where we’ve had to have discussions with our almost 4 year old daughter about what not to say to/about people in public. We’ve covered topics including people’s weight, lack of hair, age and disabilities, and explained that pointing out people and talking about these things might hurt their feelings. It’s starting to sink in. I think.
Kids just have a knack for making you look like a horrible parent.
I’ve had friends who were horrified when their very young kids noticed different skin tones and said that they didn’t want to play with those kids at the park etc. I was hoping to skip that kind of mortification, like a foolish, foolish optimist. So when my daughter told me this, I saw awkward shopping trips in my future.
I know she isn’t likely to grow up a racist if we never express hateful sentiments against other races ourselves, but dammit, what if she says stuff like that while I’m in Kroger or something? Will people see it for what it is, just another child without a filter who is still working things out about the world, or will they think that she is repeating racist things she hears at home? More important than my embarrassment levels, what if she hurts someone with a comment?
Telling her that differences in skin tone are nothing to be fearful of doesn’t work, mostly because she LIKES being scared of stuff. She looks rather disappointed when we tell her that monsters aren’t real. I needed to take a different tack.
I gave her a bit of a scientific explanation as to why different skin tones exist, showed her pictures to show her how much it could vary between people. I tried to be simple but she hasn’t even reached her 4th birthday yet. I was pretty sure it went right over her head, and just accepted those embarrassing public comments as my destiny.
A day later, just as we were getting out of the car to join in a weekly activity she takes part in with other children, she informed me matter-of-factually “Carol has black skin, because she has more melanin.”
Will it be awkward if she points this out for random strangers? Yes, but at least they will be less likely to think we just popped into Walmart to pick up some muffins for a KKK meeting we are on the way to (there are members here in Knoxville! Yuck!). I can live with that level of awkward.
(Really? This is the best they could do for a site? They don’t have any web designers among their members?)
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