Monday, August 8, 2011


Here's the scene...Sunday morning, church, towards the end of mass. The kid has been pretty well-behaved, but is starting to talk a little loud. He's talking it up with the little girl sitting in the pew behind us. Yeah, mostly he's talking. Not her so much. Baby E is standing up next to him, gooey as always, grinning and batting those gorgeous eyelashes. The kid is chatting away. I'm not paying much attention to what he says, but keep reminding him to whisper. Hubby's oblivious. All of the sudden, the kid comes out with, "that's my baby brother". I think, "oh, he loves his baby brother. What cute thing is he going to say about him?". I'm still only half listening though. Then I hear, "my baby brother is brown. And I'm brown, too, not like you". The little  girl was very light complected, even paler than me. And then I hear - wait for it - "My brother's just a little brownie. We're just little brownies. Brownie boys". I quickly hushed him, not that ya coulda heard him say anything else anyway, over the laughter of the little girl's family and many of our neighbors (good hearted, I might add). I was, in turns, trying not to laugh, and feeling really embarrassed.

Then something else hit. A feeling that we've failed somewhere. Now, the kid hasn't mentioned his "brownness" in quite awhile, though he used to pretty frequently. So, honestly, it's just something I haven't really thought about. I'm guessing hubby also hasn't. And I feel like we've been remiss. We should have been talking about it, or at least providing open doors to allow him to talk about it, because it's obviously something that's been on his mind at least on occasion.

But, here's the thing, I don't know where to start. I don't know what to say. And I'm sure that's part of why we haven't. Not that it's been a conscious choice, mind you. I don't really know how to have the whole "race" discussion with him. I know I should ask him questions about what he's thinking, but I don't know what questions to even start with. We have a couple of books that talk about race, so maybe I'll pull those out in the next few days. We have read them before, but not lately.

Today's lesson - The art of whispering is one of those things that you should teach your kid at home, before the need to know how to do it arises, before he shows you he doesn't in fact know how to do it. And then proceeds to say something really loud at a quiet moment at church.


Camilleta said...

Aww. His innocence is so cute. Good luck figuring things out.

If you want advice, I remember my brother was VERY inquisitive and VERY sensitive to issues like racism as a kid, so he spent a lot of time learning about nationalities and related things.

He had this great, kid-friendly, book about nationalities. There was a child from a different country on each page who talked about him/herself. It was interesting to read about other kids' lives and had an underlying message that all kids are KIDS, no matter where they are or what they look like.

My brother also appreciated the whole science behind why skin was light or dark. Basically, where your ancestors lived and how much sun exposure they had there determined how much protection your skin had to have from the rays.

Sometimes I just want to cry at the fact that we have to brace our kids for possible racism in this world! I have no advice on that count... I have no idea how I'll ever explain it to my daughter if and when she encounters it.

I almost forgot, I passed on a blogging award to you, go here if you'd like to accept it. =)

panda said...

I, too, have a little Brownie boy (although he's more of a caramel brownie than double german chocolate brownie) and I've been thinking a lot about how we'll handle to topic when it comes time. I'm a single mom; his dad felt the need to leave at three months so he could go impregnate another girl (and have a chocolate brownie... apparently he doesn't like caramel too much). Check out Bicultural Mom on FaceBook - I follow her, and as a mother of biracial children, she's always willing to discuss topics like this, shedding new light on the situation and providing some insight on how to deal with it. Racism is an unfortunate fact (although, it seems that no matter what your color is now, you'll be a target at some point). I'm going to try to focus on acknowledging the differences while embracing them. All we can do as parents is educate our children and hope that instead of hatred, we can foster love for all individuals.

Lisa said...

Honestly, I think it doesn't matter as much how you talk about it, but more that you just do. That may sound overly simple and it is hard to start, but you just make yourslef start and see where it goes.