Monday, April 02, 2007


according to my daughter, i am 'kinda brown' and my husband is 'not brown'. it's weird how kids notice and want to verbalize these things at such a young age. i didn't know he was paying any attention to skin color until last summer when we went to a popular kids watering hole in the Pearl district. the other little black kids were running around playing having a great time, and my son came out of the water saying she didn't want to play around the 'brown kids'. i was speechless. she didn't realize that she is brown too. i had a long discussion about it and told her that she was brown too. she didn't think so. i have no idea what that 's about. maybe it was just part of her being three years old.

now, she knows she's brown, but when we talk about it, she acts as if she doesn't really believe it, like she's just going along with whatever i'm telling her. i guess that's normal.

so lately, whens she's talked about my husband- her dad, he really notices that we are not the same skin color. she says that 'daddy is not brown'. and i'm [insert creative unknown adjective] to say that i told my son that daddy is too brown. i don't know why i told him that. i really don't. if i think hard enough, which i'm not doing, maybe i'll come up with the reasons why. i just figure that there are so many shades of black people, why couldn't my husband be brown? he could just as easily be a really, really light skinned black man. not that i wish he were. i don't.

don't get me wrong. we truly don't have a race issue in our household. i know that there's so many issues behind why i tell my daughter this, and i would probably seem to contradict myself a couple times if i tried to list them.


Pyo said...

Hello there,
My daughter started talking about colours very recently. We never mentionned anything about it in front of her before, and I think she got teased at school and that brought up the subject.
She first said I was brown, like Kirikou (do you know this cartoon?) and said her dad wasn't (just like your son).
Then she asked if she was going to "grow brown" (she's light skinned, she could be considered a Spaniard or an Italian curly girl).
I got concerned because she seemed to be worrying.
I'm worried that she might be facing comments at school that make her think that brown (or any shade of black) is wrong.
Fortunately this question never came up again. I hope it won't.

For the record I answered she might "grow browner" really beautiful like her mum and her aunties... She was satisfied.

Maybe I should have talked about it earlier, she must have had a tough time at school and she wasn't prepared (god! she's not even 5! what's with those children talking races at such a young age!)

Dawn said...

My daughter just turned three and so far she only notices colors within her family. She says she is brown, that brother and I are pink. Daddy she hasn't mentioned. Then a few weeks ago we were driving in the car with her birth mom and she said, "Hey! You're brown like me!" Her babysitter is also a black woman but she's never said anything about her -- I kinda wondered if she would but maybe she was looking for connection to her other mom? Don't know but it's interesting.

Bense said...

I think kids differ between people they like and people they don't. And the easiest thing is their looks on the outside. But at times, kids reverse logics, teaching their parents some vital lessons...

Anonymous said...

Salon had an interesting story about a kid learning he's Black, even though he's not black:

Natalie said...

My post from yesterday looks like it didn't come up, I'll try again but it won't be as good. I remember my little sister being born and getting excited that she was "brown just like me' because no one else was the same brown. Dad and his relatives were darker brown. Mom and her relatives weren't brown at all (maybe grandma was a little with tanning). In sister I had someone to share my identity with. I think I understand where you are coming from with his father being brown but I won't presume to put words in your mouth. I don't know if I would do the same thing but it is interesting.

Chris Snethen said...

I don't have time to jump into this right now, but it looks like some interesting reading.

Trula said...

Definitely make sure he get to spend time with your family and have him around other black kids. There have been studies on this, I will have to find the link but I was just reading about a young woman who did a replication of the famous doll study where black children preferred white dolls to black dolls. This is one of the many ill effects of being a black person in a white supremacist culture. As his mom do your best to instill pride in himself and acceptance of himself as a person of color.

Anonymous said...

Have you taught him anything positive about his ethnic identity?

You can't just leave a void. He will receive plenty of negative messages about what it means to be a brown person.

You have to actively counteract that. Obviously he has picked up some of it already.

On youtube there is a video of a study conducted with 5 year old. By 5, most of the kids picked a white doll over a black doll when asked which doll was the "good doll". (reminicent of the Brown v. Board of Education case)

D said...

If I were you, I would say something like...

"Yes, mommmy's skin is brown, and daddy's skin is pink. Mommy's family came from a place called Africa a long time ago. Daddy's family came from Bavaria (or wherever) a long time ago. Most people in Africa have brown skin and most people in Bavaria have pink skin. You are a mix of mommy and daddy so now you're brownish pink or pinkish brown, and you live in America. And you should be proud of your brown, and proud of your pink, 'cuz both your daddy and I are great people, and have an interesting culture. Daddy and I chose each other because I like his pinkness and he likes my brownness, but maybe someday you'll like a girl who is brown, or pink, or green, or somewhere in between. You'll have to wait and see, I guess".