Recent conversations with little man…
“I’m different from you guys.”
“What do you mean by different?”
“My skin is brown and you guys have white skin.”
“Yes, we have different colors of skin.”
“When I get bigger will I have white skin?”
“No, you will always have brown skin and your brown skin is beautiful and we wouldn’t want to change that about you.”
“Is white skin better then brown skin?”
“No, of course it’s not. Neither is better then the other. Both are beautiful. Just like all the other colors of skin. Why are you asking me this?”
“Because everyone in my family has white skin.”
“I’m the only one at daycare and school that have brown skin. Everybody has white skin but not me.”
“Yes, that’s true, in our town there aren’t really many brown skinned people like you. But do you remember when I used to work at the school in this neighboring town and there were students with brown skin like you?”
“Oh yeah, I remember!”
“How come I have brown skin and she(pointing at his little sister)doesn’t?”
“Because each of you were made by two different fathers.”
Having these conversations, causes me to question where we live. As much as I love living in our small rural community, it may not be the best place for us to be raising little man. I know that we will not always be able to protect him from racism or from feeling different. But, I do wonder if moving to a more diverse community would be better for all of us. This is something we may have to consider.
I’m not sure what sparked his curiosity and his questioning. I am glad that he has talked to me and that I have been here to listen. Included in these conversations has been much talk about differences in people…from the color of skin to colors of eyes and hair…from short and tall and big and small.
We have talked about heritage and various ethnic backgrounds.
We’ve talked about how important it is to love who we are. That each of us was created special and unique. We have talked about being happy in our own skin no matter what anyone else says…to not be ashamed or embarrassed of what we look like.
We’ve talked about who we each are underneath our skin…about all the things inside of us, like loving, caring, kindness and sharing, that make hearts beautiful. And all the things that make us individuals that are different, like favorite colors or foods we like to eat.
We have talked about how it’s a good thing that each of us are different and to celebrate these differences. I knew there would come a day that he started to take notice of the color of his skin. That he would notice that his skin is different from his own sister…from those in his family and community. I just didn’t know it would be so soon.
It hasn’t been easy coming up with answers to little mans questions…especially with his 3 year old little sister soaking up every word. It can be complicated trying to explain in ways that his 4 year old mind and her 3 year old mind can comprehend.
He is a sharp little boy that is always thinking…so much so that I have to practically run to keep ahead of him. For right now, my answers are good enough but will they always be? I fear not. For now, he listens to me and believes what I say but I fear the day he doesn’t. I pray I have the answers as his questions get harder.
I know these conversations are important but more important is that I model what I am trying to teach them. I will teach them nothing if I don’t walk the talk. If I am not happy in my own skin how can I possibly teach him to be?
I want him to be happy in his own skin. I want him to embrace all of his differences, not just the color of his skin but all those things that show the beautiful color of his heart. These are the things I want for him, and little lady. These are the things I want for all of us.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
“Our greatest strength as a human race is our ability to acknowledge our differences, our greatest weakness is our failure to embrace them.”
Do you recognize and embrace your differences? Are you happy in your own skin?