My Kid Makes Me Look Like a Racist

“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.

kkk racist website ugly

(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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7 Comments

  1. Sunrosee

    Haha, it does not look lie it does it! Well handled with your little one, they are at such a curious age and figuring out so much in those little heads of theirs.

    • Daniela

      She hasn’t brought it up since, so hopefully that sorted it. She can go back to shaming us in other ways 😉

  2. SLL

    I guess she didn’t get the shock or horror response that usually means you freaking hate it so she *must* repeat said terrible behaviour. Well done!

  3. Phillip Quin

    Mum told us that when my brothers and I saw a black man for the first time in a supermarket, we were transfixed and couldn’t help pointing. The man smiled and waved, and mum told us (louder, I think, for everyone else’s benefit) that some people have different skin the same way people have different coloured hair or eyes. That satisfied us.

    That being said, this was in Australia, so it’s a whole different kettle of fish, in some ways.

    • Daniela

      Ella once asked Dale on a train why a man sitting nearby had “chocolate legs”. A very awkward trip for Dale, the guy heard but I doubt he cared.

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