Imagine being approached and asked, “Why are you white and your kids are brown?” That’s exactly what a child said to someone I know.
We talked about our experiences dealing with children who appear shocked by our mixed families. They don’t understand why we are all different shades. I’m not at all insulted by their curiosity. However, I do feel it’s sad that some kids are not being educated about it.
Some people may say they don’t see color. It’s as if the subject is too taboo to discuss. But, I beg to differ. Whether white, black, biracial, Latino, or Asian, we are all different. As a parent, I think it’s important to teach my kids about race. I’ve always made it a point to educate my daughter, Princess, about her heritage as well. Now that we have a son, my husband and I plan on teaching him as well.
I am Jamaican and their dad is American. We like to introduce books that celebrate both race and culture. Princess enjoys reading stories like One Love, which is based on the famous song by Bob Marley. The book draws reference to my native country’s famous saying, “Out of many one people,” and focuses on what makes the world we live in so unique.
She’d point to the people in the book and say, “That’s me, Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma! That’s Katie and Sean.” I love that she’s able to compare her family and friends to the characters in the book. I’m always surfing the web for books that have an empowering message. I stumbled across Max and Me that resonated with me. It’s a fun story about two best friends who recognize and appreciate their differences. Princess is at the age where she recognizes that people are different.
The character in the book compares his brown eyes to the blues eyes of his best friend Max.“Your eyes are brown like mine, Mommy!” Princess would say with excitement during our story time.
In her loud cheerful voice she’d yell, “They’re blue!”
“Yep, and his are beautiful too,” I’d answer.
Rather than ignore or discourage her from talking about our differences, I encourage her to do so. I’ve been told by other parents to focus on culture and not on race. But there’s no reason why we can’t do both. When I hear of children asking questions about why families are mixed, it makes me wonder whether or not their parents are open to discussing peoples’ differences. If we all did, maybe we’d be a step closer to racial and cultural harmony.