I don't think I've ever done a post about a controversial topic. I tend to shy away from them so as not to cause conflict, but I've really been thinking about this topic lately and felt the need to share my opinion. I was reading another blog that I follow the other day and this person commented on how she never mentions race to her children. Instead she gives them toys and books that show people of all races. She hopes to raise "colorblind children". I must say that up until about 4 months ago that's exactly how I felt. Then, I was in the airport on my way to a wedding and picked up a Newsweek Magazine. The cover had a picture of a baby with the tagline, "See Baby Discriminate" and I was immediately hooked. I stood there and read the entire article which was quite lengthy. My husband was dragging me to our gate and I had to put it down (I didn't want to buy it, cheapskate that I am). Here is a link to the article http://www.newsweek.com/id/214989/page/1. I highly recommend that you read it in it's entirety. It has changed the way that we have decided to teach our children about race. And I believe 100% that it has been a great decision.
In our daily lives we don't come in contact with a huge amount of diversity. One of our friends even teased us about living in White Cheddar instead of West Chester since it is a predominately white neighborhood. My daughter had one black child in her preschool class. She referred to him either by his name or as "the boy with the brown skin". I thought that was fine. I thought if she wasn't labeling him by his race that meant my plan of not talking about race and her being colorblind was working. Our shift in thinking happened just as she was starting kindergarten. Her new school has a much more diverse poplulation of kids than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised to find that about 1/3 of her class is of another race than white. She came home the first day telling me all about this girl with the very cool braids all over her head and wondered why no one like us does their hair like that. And there were two boys in her class with cornrows which she had no idea what they were called but after her describing them I figured it out. She was completely fascinated. I took that opportunity to tell her about "black" people. And it was really a great conversation. I could tell that she had really been wondering about this whole race thing, but didn't know how to ask me about it. And we talked about how no matter what color a person's skin is, she can still be friends with them. I think at her age this is the best way to talk about equality since that's a pretty abstract concept at this age. We don't talk about race all the time, but I know now that she feels comfortable coming to me with a question. And she does often and she keeps me on my toes! We have some neighbors who are brown (middle eastern) and their parents are white. That has been a great opportunity to talk about adoption and race all at that same time. She is always curious about which brown skinned people are called "black" and which aren't. Which honestly I don't always know what to tell her, but at least I know I can fill her head with the knowledge that no matter what ethnic background a person is from, everyone is the same on the inside and we can all be friends if we try. I think it's also a great way to introduce history and geography to her as well. I hope I haven't offended anyone in this post and I hope that if you are wanting to teach your child about race that you won't be afraid to speak up to them. After all, we are their greatest teachers.