Hi Meltingpot Readers,
I'm coming to you for your advice and opinion. My nine-year old son seems to be mildly obsessed with skin color these days. Okay, obsessed is too strong a word, but he does like to point things out about different people's pigmentation. As in, this weekend our dear family friends came to visit. Mom's Black, Dad's White, kids are mixies like mine. My son announced to me, in the midst of their visit, "Isn't it perfect, that you and N. are the same color, Papi and M. are the same color, me and C. are the same color and the two little ones are the same color too."
My girlfriend heard this and commented, "I think you talk about race too much."
Yikes! First I denied it and then el esposo raised his eyes at me and said, "You talk about race all the time." I still tried to deny it, but then I realized, 'damn skippy' I talk about race all the time. I write about it, talk about it and think about it a whole lot. And as I came to terms with that, I realized that that is exactly what I didn't have growing up, a conversation about race with my parents or other trusted adults. And because of that, I always felt very uncomfortable whenever anyone else brought up race either. I thought it was a taboo subject and being a person of color, I kind of translated that to mean, "I" am a taboo subject.
I don't want that for my kids.
I don't have a racial agenda to teach my children. And to be honest, I don't even know if I'm feeding them the right mix of racial/ethnic pride so that they will feel comfortable in the skin their in. What I do know is that I am trying to make sure that they know that talking about color and ethnic origins is okay. I think it is a grave disservice to teach your children to be colorblind because they're not. They see the difference and if we don't give them the appropriate language to describe what they see, then we're perpetuating the culture we live in today where grown men and women cannot dialogue about race effectively.
My son came home from school one day this past spring and told me, "Mom, this one girl said all the Black kids in the other class talk too much. And then all the other kids said she was racist. Is that true?" So kids notice. Kids make assumptions. Kids talk about this stuff whether we talk about it at home or not. So I think I'm just going to keep on doing what I'm doing and making sure my kids know they can talk to me about it, with the appropriate language, of course.
What do you guys think? Do you tone down your language in front of your kids when it comes to racial issues? Do you reprimand them for describing someone as "Black, or White or Asian," when they're telling a story? Do you think that by talking about race, you predispose your kids to be overly concerned about being a child of color?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.