Thoughts?

scarf: DIY from a shirt  {similar} | sunnies: MimiBoutique | shirt: thrifted {similar} | jeans: {similar} | shoes: ModCloth {similar} | nails: Sinful Colors – Dream On with clear sparkle polish | bag: thrifted {similar} | watch: Michael Kors

You might remember awhile ago I posted about the challenge I was having with getting Jaxon to eat more.  Several of you shared with me your experiences, advice,  and well wishes.  Thank you!  It’s still something Jon and I are determined to conquer and it’s getting better little by little, but now a new concern has cropped up…

A week or so ago, as I was getting Jaxon ready for the day, he made a comment that made me a little uneasy.  He said some kids at school call him “brown” and he dropped his head.  It took every bit of strength for me to fight back tears.  I mean, no mother ever wants her child to feel ashamed or insecure and I just hate that whatever was said to him made him feel this way.  I smiled at him and said, “Yep, you are brown and Mommy is brown and Daddy is brown and Juju is brown.  I love being brown, don’t you?”  He said, “Yes, but Mommy, you’re orange,” and laughed.  We both laughed.  I later told him that God loves us and that’s why He made us all kinds of different colors.  I told him how lucky he was to “get” to be brown and how lucky other kids were to “get” to be the colors they are.  

Since that conversation, I’ve been super aware of what we watch on TV.  I’m super aware of the books he’s reading, the magazines I’m reading and the environment I expose him to.  Most importantly, I’ve decided that I need to spend more time in the classroom connecting with the kids, teachers and parents.  I need to know how the teachers talk about diversity and appreciation of it.  His class is made up of 80% Caucasian kids, 18% Asian and 2% African American.  The teachers are all different nationalities.  Of the 10 teachers on his side of campus, maybe 2 are Caucasian, one being his teacher.  I’ve already spoken with the teachers and will begin volunteering regularly starting in November.  I can’t begin to tell you how important this is to me.  It’s something I think about every single day.  The last thing I want is my child to grow up with an inferiority complex.  I don’t want him thinking that he’s valued any less simply because of the color of his skin and I find it absurd that I even have to think about this.  I’m going to stop now because I can go on for days, but I think you get the idea.  

Tell me, what would you do?  What do you say to your child?  Are there any mothers out there who have experienced this with their children?  How did you validate your child?  Have any of you experienced this yourself as a kid?

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30 thoughts on “Thoughts?

  1. I praise God that I have not experienced this type of situation with my children, being as though my son goes to a school were African Americans make up about 3% of the school population.I think you handled that situation very well. My nephew had an incident at school were his best friend told him that he couldn’t play with him because the little boys that he plays with doesn’t play with “your kind”. I was so sad and so hurt when my sister told me. I think we as parents, along with the teachers and school staff need to teach our children about diversity.Let them know it’s okay to be different. This of course alot easier said than done. I hope he feels awesome about being “brown”.

    P.S.- Your outfit is on point, as usual….lol

  2. It’s a shame that human beings still have the idea to validate themselves about the skin color. I’m puertorican, and I’m like you ,my mom is white and my father is black, ans I embrace this beautiful mix. Some people said I’m white because my skin color its lighter, and I said to them, “Helloo! Did you saw my hair? I embrace it and I never felt ashame about my roots and my culture. I think you did a great job how you explain to your kid, it’s just how he feel about himself. Everybody its beautiful inside and outside no matter de race, their looks, religion, etc. I think you have a beautiul family, and you will do a fabulous job! Btw, I love your scarf!! You always so cute!! Hue hug girl!!

  3. Darling I’ve had the same problems with my daughter. I taught my daughter to be with the people who are nice to her whatever color they are. Yes she faced racism but by the time she was in high school she was socailly accepted by the kids in her school who were mostly caucasion. So you never know. Me I am what you call a social mixer with people of different backgrounds and ethinicity.
    Because I am a fairskinned black woman I have gotten it from both sides but I think it’s made me broader in my concept of people.

  4. My daughter is five. She is aware that the color of her skin is diffrent the others. This breaks my heart! Im hispanic and her dad is african american. She questions why she is not my color…i to tell her that we are all diffrent but beautiful in our own ways. Im alot more aware now of what dolls she plays with and books we ready shows we watch…i just always try to make her feel special.

    1. I completely understand! I mean, it’s like, what do you say? It kind of catches you off guard. I am SO SO SO glad I decided to share this because a friend of mine who teaches preschool read the post and we talked about it last night. She gave me a big list of books about this subject. Here are a few:
      My Nose Your Nose, Birthday Basket for Tia, Shades of People, Can You Say Peace, Happy to be Nappy, Whoever You Are, Bee-Bim-Bop.
      I gave the list to my mom and asked her to begin scavenger hunting!

  5. First of all, thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    As a mother I sympathize with you on not wanting your son to be hurt. My son is only 16 months so he’s not in school but I do my best to expose him to different races and cultures, by partaking in community activities.

    To answer your question, what would I do? I would definitely not pull my child out of the school. I think your solution was absolutely 100 percent dead on!! You’ve taught him to love himself and others and that we are ALL God’s children.He’ll be stronger for this experience-which will lead to a positive Christian Character! Love it! You’re a great mom!

  6. Also, knowing that my son or anybody going through name calling seriously breaks my heart. I don’t believe jokingly amognst siblings either. We are mothers who want/need to protect our cubs.

  7. You explained to Jaxon very well. Its unfortunate we still have to “explain”, but you know kids at this age are observant, inquisitive and absorb like sponges what they see and hear what’s going on in their household/ T.V. radio and such. I’m a woman of a light skin tone and growing up I didn’t receive a lot of name calling b/c of my complexion; more so of my height. I was the tallest girl at 5’9 amongst my peers. I do remember a young boy calling me a hateful name while riding my bike (I was appx. age 10) and I was ANGRYYYYYYY!!!!! Looking back, I know he heard that offensive name from his circle of family, friends and or on the streets. When my oldest son was about Jaxon age, I myself received comments from adults of the same race asking why he is dark complected. I honestly shake my head and want to shake my finger of tisk tisk tisk when I feel they should know better to even ask me this. My older son now 16 sometimes has difficulties dealing with his complexion. He use to question why he is darker than his immediate family members (keep in mind my father, his grandfather are of the same skin tone and on my husband’s side of the family- wide range of skin tones). This question arises more so I believe when he is teased by his own peer groups, “friends” in his circle. I explain the gene pool and let him know he’s handsome and God made him w/o mistake. I tell him he has to have the confidence in himself to believe it. I’m real w/ him. I let him know some people are mean spirit. As he becomes a young adult to manhood he may come across hearing more derogatory name calling. I tell him don’t let no one tell you the contrary of who you are. “Stick and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is FALSE! FALSE! FALSE!!!

    1. Words DO hurt! Whoever made that rhyme up was crazy. 🙂 Fortunately, I dont remember having to deal with color issues head on when I was little. I remember other kids in my class bearing the brunt of bad jokes. In fact, I remember laughing right along with the jokers. I feel terrible now!

  8. I had a similar conversation about this with my group of friends this past weekend. I can’t even begin to imagine what this must feel like as a parent. Also, though I am a minority and had issues with that growing up, because my Mother is white and I look nothing like her, I will never understand what it is to be Black in this country, specifically a Black boy/man. I think your first reaction to acknowledge the fact that both you and your husband are also “brown” was so great. And then to go on to say that being “brown” or any other color for that matter, was a privelige, and we are exactly how we should be, as God made us, is equally great! I’m not a parent, and I can’t speak from that perspective but I know that a child’s bucket of confidence and self worth must be overflowed in their home because there is a line of people just outside the door that want to drain it! I think you have taken all the right steps to make sure this doesn’t become a bigger issue in the future. As always, thank you for sharing with us! xo, Rita

    1. I could not have said it better! You’re right. It’s imperative that we encourage our children because God knows this world won’t and I’m talking about all children, not just my own. Thank you for the encouragement RIta!

  9. Ahhh, this is a tough one. Of course, you know I don’t have any children, but this is a struggle I have with my nieces and nephew in Georgia. They live in a predominantly white neighborhood, they go to public school with mainly white kids, and that’s what they know. They have a white grandmother & I have no problem with white folks. I love that they don’t see color, BUT, I do need them to recognize that they are, indeed, black. It sounds weird, but it’s true. When my niece was around 3, I got her this Barbie set with two dolls in it: one black and one white. She opened it & immediately started playing with the white doll. I asked her why she didn’t want to play with the black one & she told me she didn’t like that doll. I was devastated. I never bought her a white doll again after that point. She’s grown out of that, but I still worry about them. My sister’s two young sons are pretty much “Obama Kids”. I call them that, because all they’ve seen in their lifetime is a black man as president. If they ever have any doubts about being black or brown skinned, my sister says, “President Obama & Michelle Obama have skin like you. Grandpa & Grandma have skin like you. Daddy has skin like you. Uncle Will & Uncle Shannon have skin like you. I have skin like you. Having brown skin is a wonderful gift.”

    Wow, this kinda got long! Don’t worry about it. He’ll grow out of it. He has so many “brown” faces to look up to as role models. You’ll be fine. 🙂

    1. Gosh, your story takes me back to an incident that occured a couple of years back in Alabama. I was at the Cracker Barrel with the whole family. An elderly Caucasian man came up to our table and made a comment about Julia. He said, “She so cute. Her hair reminds me of the little girls that used to run around on the plantation”. Jolai, it brings me to tears just reliving it. I was in shock. All I could say was, “Well, we’re not on a plantation anymore!” I just didn’t understand how someone could think something like that was appropriate to say. Is it just me?

  10. Well I understand your concern, I have a 6yr old boy and the topic of “skin color” has come up a time or two. What I do, is I regularly try to reinforce his sense of confidence. I think it’s important to tell our children at every turn how “great, loved, wanted and special” they are. Eventually, they will come to believe it themselves! Repetition and action are the key in my book!

  11. race or any other societal ill that makes a child ‘different’ usually creeps on us when we least expect it. I think the way you handled it was excellent. You don’t want the child to think something must be wrong with him for being brown, neither do you want to blow it out of proportion that makes it even more difficult for him to comprehend the complexity of race/colorism/shadism. Its great you are taking the responsible approach by becoming more involved with your kid’s school and engaging the teachers and admin. I don’t have kids since I’m not married (yeah a novel idea in our society today), but I work with kids and not long ago I remember my 1st time experiencing how different I was from my peers in term of race and religion. I’ve been to schools around the world, but most of my experience is rooted in Canada and rarely did I ever feel racism from my fellow white students. In fact, colorism/shadism is an obsession within the back community and other minorities from experience. However, I faced bigotry from teachers and often was the one defending everyone in class from the Chinese kid to Native Indians. Here is what I did when working with pre teens and teens alike:

    1. From the start of class/program I would set a rule of anti-oppression and inclusive safe environment. When you set basic rules where I engaged the kids to come up with lists of what they feel is important to make the class fun and safe place from the get go, it sets a tone. Yes, conflicts come and they make mistakes, but often we used our posters and colored pictures around the wall to reaffirm our shared rules and why its important for all of us.

    2. We talked about differences not in a preachy way, rather based on projects, it could different civilizations, heck even a super hero/cartoon they like and I’ll tie it to specific topics from racism to homophobia.

    3. Include parents in any events or national one we are having from multiculturalism to Independent day. There are so many great ideas and books that deal with this topic that can even be incorporated in your family life. Another thing mom used to do was get to know the parents of my friends, invite the kids to my birthday party, participate in parent’s night events and groups, build that repertoire.

    1. Those kids were lucky to have you. You attacked it head on in a non-confrontational “unscary” kind of way. You included them in the solution. These are great thoughts! You are several steps ahead of some of us parents. 🙂

  12. I’m not a mommy yet, but I think what you’re doing is definitely the best decision, filled with wisdom and love, rather than fear. I look up to you! Love the shades, and diamonds! xo, Anita

  13. Show him a bouquet of flowers, and explain how lovely it is, simply because it has all the different colors of flowers in it! Truly, we’re all in one big flower vase, and what color flower you are, contributes to the beauty of it!! Bless your heart, I know this is tough for you and Jonathan, and the bewilderment that comes along with it. Your response to him was uplifting and perfect! Continue to reinforce how wonderful he is, and what a blessing it is to be “brown”. What does sadden me/you/us, is that in 2011, we must continue to deal with this issue. Raising a child is 24/7/365 work, and to have extra items such as this piled on top of parenting, keeps you on your knees, which is the right place to be! You’re doing a fabulous job, stay prayerful. Talking to his school and volunteering there, is FABULOUS, great job!! p.s.

    1. Sharon you are SO in my head. I’m begining to point different things out that we see in just casual day to day journeys. For example, the red skittle is just as good as the green one. The blue motorcyle is just as cool as the black one. The orange ball bounces just as high as the white ball. etc. Every chance I get, I’m pointing these things out. The other thing I just noticed, is that whenever Julia sees little girls that look like her, when we’re out, in books in magazines, on TV she says {aloud} “Look, that’s me!” But I love that she says it with excitement and is happy about it. I say, “Yep she looks just like you. She’s beautiful too!”

  14. Dear Leslie
    I understand your concern.
    I was a divorced mother with 2 kids, latina and “Brown” living in a beautifull place call San Diego, CA
    My Kids were dark skin too and many of his classmates were whites & asians. I struggle a little bit with the bullying and racism (we are puertorricans). I start pointing my kids good people like , politicians, artist, atlettes black & whites explain them that skin color dont determined what kind of person you are. Insist in look at good values in the persons not in the skin. I dont want them to feel less but neither more than others. Now they are adults with they own kids whith a good self esteem and loving God and see/care about others like themselves.

    1. Thank you for sharing with me Edry! It’s tough. I asked my mom how she dealt with it. She is Peruvian and my dad is African American. For some reason she feels like racism is a projection of our own insecurities. My mom is an interesting woman. She tries to see the glass half full and sometimes loses sight of reality. I do agree that there are some people who blame every loss on their skin color and how unfair the world treats them because of it, and that’s just crazy, but I also feel like to some degree there are still people in this world who judge others on the exterior. It’s a shame, but it’s the world we live in. I believe that it takes hard work to get where you want to be and STAY there, regardless of your skin color. I’ve never blamed my losses on my skin color and I refuse to let my children do that. I plan on continuing to lift them up and remind them that we are all children of God. Whoever said parenting was easy….

  15. Ok, so I loved the text on your first picture! It hit home! Definitely have to start thanking God more.

    I don’t have kids so it would be so hard for me to figure out what to do in this situation, I think you handled it well.

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