What are nice, caring, protective white moms really doing to their kids when they limit their contact with non-white people?
"Mommy, Why is Her Face Brown?"Mom•Logic's Jackie: How my 3 1/2 year old taught me race relations.
When my husband brought my two boys to visit me at work this week, my older boy shocked a room full of Moms when he asked me loud and clearly "Mommy, why is her face brown?" upon meeting one of my co-workers.
I was completely mortified. What was I doing wrong that he would he say something like that? Aren't we all supposed to be colorblind and not notice the differences in people? But as soon as I got over myself, I quickly realized that his asking about her skin was no different from him pointing out I have blue eyes, and not hazel like his or why I have "dots" (aka freckles) on my arms.
I asked my co-worker to field the question because I was interested in hearing how she'd like it answered. She explained to him that people come in all colors and her skin is just darker than his. He waited a beat--thought about what she said--and then asked if we could watch Toy Story 2 for the ten thousandth time.
What I learned from my preschooler that day is that recognizing differences in each other is not harmful, racist, or prejudice--it's natural. It's when you judge or treat someone differently because of those differences that's hurtful. And that was the furthest thing from his sweet three-year-old mind.
This article strikes me as an instant classic in the Chronicles of White Oblivion.
I'm also reminded of Thandeka's penetrating insights into the psychology of white childrearing in her book Learning to Be White, especially this succinct observation:
"The first racial victim of the white community is its own child."
h/t: nepthys_12 @ Blackfolks; the original momlogic article, with comments, is here