In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.















Thursday, September 17, 2009

Differences

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.”
Audre Lorde

“Our greatest strength as a human race is our ability to acknowledge our differences, our greatest weakness is our failure to embrace them.”
Judith Henderson

Do you recognize and embrace your differences?  Are you happy in your own skin?

 

 

 

23 comments:

Kelly said...

Your little man is just adorable! My daughter is mixed, so I am familiar with some of those thoughts and concerns.

She was an only child, I was a single mom. I tried to make a point to keep books and movies around that presented and celebrated differences and similarities in children (people). And most importantly showed her that she was an individual, special and unique regardless of the color of her skin.

She never identified with being a color, she lived being a girl, a story teller, a singer, a dancer, a swimmer, a joiner, a volunteer and friend.

It sounds like you are doing the right things (not that I know what's right, I just know my little family of two!) keep loving and keep listening.

Bina said...

You've seen pictures of my girls. My oldest one never asked about her skin color, but my youngest one does all the time. She has asked why I have white skin and hers is brown. I tell her because her daddy is phillipino and he has dark skin, too. She told me once that she wants skin like mine. I told her she is very lucky to have brown skin, because it will always look like she has a tan and she'll never look ghostly! But when her dad gets really tan she'll say, "My daddy looks like his skin is black now". It's really kind cute.

LPC said...

I think you have answered him so well.

Which reminds me. On Saturdays I sometimes show pictures of other people's cute kids. Would you be OK if I showed pictures of your three youngest grandkids, i.e. the little man, the little blond boy and the little girl?

Crazy Charm said...

Kids are so honest.

I don't think you should worry about where you live. All kids are going to have questions and face discrimination no matter where they live.

I think the most important things come from friends and family and your little guy is obviously very well loved. You're teaching him to be proud of who he is!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Why wouldn't he be happy with your answers? You are telling him the TRUTH!! :) He should embrace his differences and likenesses (sp?) that is what makes him unique...Makes us all unique.
I think the fact that he is asking and noticing these things is very normal for his age. Little girl will know it all soon enough too. This is real life you are teaching them..you are doing a great job. Those kids are lucky to have you.
xoxo
Suz

queenofphrump said...

Lori, I think that rather than move you should plan to do a major activity where he finds himself surrounded by amazing men who have his same color of skin. Without telling him that is why you are doing it. I am thinking something like indulging him in an NBA game which would be pricey but he would see these guys as idols. If he identified himself immediately with greatness I think he would also know his own potential of greatness regardless of what he chooses to do with himself. I know something like this might be out of the price range but there are many other options of that was just what came to mind quickly. Life experiences broaden a young child's point of view much faster than anything else. Love to you. Claire

bernthis said...

i am beyond grateful to say that by in large I am finally comfortable in my own skin. Of course, I have my days....

Bella said...

great post. Kids do notice, even at a tender young age. I have never had to deal with this kind of issue but it seems to me you have a loving heart and that is what he truly needs most of all.

Brittany said...

He is so lucky to have you! :) Us whitey's pay lots of money to try and have beautiful dark skin :) Lucky honey! :)

Jeannie said...

I can't say what's right or wrong - you can only love him the best you can and answer him fairly.

I had a black friend who had been adopted by whites when she was a baby. She rarely encountered other blacks until she went away to school in a large city. The other blacks there rejected her because she could not act like they did - she acted white and they didn't like it. She never mentioned being discriminated by whites at all.

SciFi Dad said...

I think you did a great job handling that. It must be difficult for him to understand why he is "different" right now. I think that in time he'll stop noticing the differences and focus on the similarities.

steppinthru said...

My children are darker skinned than me. Their father was German and has dark hair, eyes and olive skin. I am Irish with light hair, white skin and blue eyes. My daughter asked me one day if I was sure she and her brother were my kids. I laughed and assured her that I was SURE I was her mother. We talked about the difference in skin color, eye color and hair color and the uniqueness of each of God's creations. When she got older she told me she was so glad she had tan skin all the time. I think she finally accepted her uniqueness as a gift. You did the right thing by telling him the truth and I trust that you will always have the right answers for him. Have a great weekend, Lori!

Brian Miller said...

wonderful post and it sounds like you are doing a great job with him. we are all beautiful in our own ways, though sometimes that goes unappreciated. keepup the good work mom, it will pay off as he grows older.

Buckeroomama said...

Oh, your little man is precious!

I think you answered his questions very, very well. :)

(I'm so glad that LPC from -Privilege featured you on her post and led me here to your blog!)

Madison said...

Maybe you're right where God wants you to be and you're raising an overcomer. I'm glad he has someone to talk to. Nothing wrong with taking action either though. The issues kids face today are not easy.

Laura said...

You are surely preparing him--and his sister--to deal with people who discern character not through quality of mind but color of skin.

TechnoBabe said...

No matter where you live there will be some sort of prejudice to deal with, so the more consistent you are with your little ones the stronger you all will be. It sounds like you have a loving family. Praise for that.

Jan said...

I have a multi-racial family. My ex-husband is Hispanic, and my sister's husband is African American. Between the two of us we have six biracial children. Our uncle's wife is also Hispanic; they have a daughter in college. The Young One's father married a woman from Trinidad who is of Indian/Pakistani descent, which makes his baby brother veryexotic looking.

Having not only had to answer the "why am I different" questions myself, but observe other people in my family answer it as well, I think you did a GREAT job of answering Little Man's inquiries. I really don't think moving is going to solve much - prejudice and bigotry exist just about everywhere, I'm sorry to say.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Sweet little man.....

Many times in my writing I write about "skin" - our "kin" -- our heritage and how it can show as skin or hair or eyes . . . VK says she feels "see-through" - so what causes the see-through feeling? when one is dismissed because of something in their "kin" - or because of something inside themselves they are made to feel - so, how wonderful little sweet man has you.

LiLu said...

Honestly, I think mixed people are the most beautiful. I'm sure the ladies will see that in time, and then he won't care about what any racist thinks. ;-)

Natalie said...

Such a beautiful post, that made me cry. You are wonderful Lori, enjoy your wedding and all your beautiful kids.xx♥

Bee said...

Wow. I wonder about this too. I just don't know the answer. More diversity might be better for him. One of my dear friends grew up as the only black person in his high school and it REALLY affected him in a negative way. It was the most horrible time of his life. Stories of all sorts of comments and mistreatments. I'm sorry, that probably doesnt help. Maybe by the time that little man is more grown up we will all see color a little less.

♥ Braja said...

Move to India....he'll fit right in :)))