Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kids and race (or, What Anna said at the library)

All I have to do when I have nothing to blog about is take Anna out in public...

We were leaving the library program today when a Black woman passed by us and smiled. Anna shouted enthusiastically, "That lady is brown!" Now the woman had already turned the corner, so I don't know if she heard, but several onlookers did. After getting over my shock and embarrassment I said, "Yes Anna, she had beautiful brown skin." Then I asked Anna what had made her comment on the woman, what was brown, and Anna's first response was, "her hair!"

Kids are pretty awesome. They don't have "baggage" associated with certain words or concepts, they just observe the world and call things how they see them. The woman's hair made more of an impession than the color of her skin (which makes sense since it was super long and in these stunning braids). There is an EXCELLENT book that all parents (adoptive or otherwise) of Black children should read called I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World: A Guide for Parents and Teachers. It's full of really helpful information about how children conceptualize race, how to explain racial issues to your kids, etc. The book has really boosted my confidence level in terms of being a transracial parent. Read it!

On the ride home I asked Anna what color her skin was, and she said, "like orange." Then I asked what color Yosef's skin was and she said, "brown." She started talking about hair color, and told me Yosef's hair was "brown, like yours!" Pretty awesome that children see similarities and things held in common where adults often only see differences. I am reminded of Jesus' words that "the kingdom of God belongs to such as these!"

After the library incident, we headed to Target, where we stood in a checkout line with a Black cashier, and behind a Black woman. I sat there wondering if Anna was going to share any more "observations", but no, she was intrigued by the receipts printing out and enjoyed chatting with the woman in front of us, who complimented Anna on HER hair.

I've been wanting to do a post on racial terminology for awhile now, so I think I'll do that next.

5 comments:

Renee said...

How funny!

I love the way kiddies think.

Blessings,
Renee

Kristen Borland said...

that girl always cracks me up!

gracie :) said...

I have that book in a stack by my bed. You know, the pile of books you want to read, but can't seem to find enough time to read more than a few chapters? From what I've read in the first chapter or so, I'm really looking forward to it. Already, it has been helpful in teaching my nieces and nephews how to respond to our little "chocolate" guy! I love the innocence of children and how they are so candid about the obvious. If only they had a little more discretion about when to say things! :)

Jeannett Gibson said...

I love that kid! I loved how you pointed out that kids tend to see the similarities rather than the differences. It breaks my heart that we (myself included) are so broken and have it all backwards so many times. SO, Target, eh? Did you drop less than $60? Probably not...

Kate said...

oh, i love it! and i can't wait to read that book, sounds great!

 

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