The question of color

‘Look Mommy’ said the babe, swinging away on the park swing, ‘One black boy and one white boy swinging together’

His neighbor was a whitish blonde toddler, probably of Russian descent. The white boy.

I was immediately conscious. I slowed down the babe’s swing and told him ‘Now we dont make comments on people’s skin colors, OK?’

‘But Mommy’, he said, ‘I was talking about hair’.

Well, I was over reacting. But whenever the babe in his toddler world points at himself as ‘light brown’ or something like that, my hackles are up. I dont really know how to deal with it.

Now thanks to his daycare, the babe has had wonderful teachers of all races whom he loved equally across the two years. His friends too are pretty diverse. And its not that that bothers me. Its the flip side of it – what will happen if and when one day he is the subject of a racial taunt or a comment?

Talking to some friends here, its something thats bound to happen sooner or later. Possibly in school. And there is nothing I can do to prevent it.

Kids react differently, but they are all hurt. Should I just wait till the time comes or is there something I can do to prepare? Should I tell him to be tough and bear it? Again, moms here have different suggestions – As the kids grow older, talk to them about how people make comments, and why its Ok to feel hurt, but they should not take it to heart. People talk. That kind of a thing. For smaller kids, its better to wait till they tell you something, which they may never do.

Another suggestion is to have a lot of Indian friends. A huge support circle so that the babe feels comfortable with his identity. Meet every weekend with Indian pals, that kind of a thing. Well, we have friends from all over, India included and are not part of an exclusively Indian group. So is that something I should consciously do?

I am quite clueless as you can probably tell and would love your suggestions and comments.

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  1. Anonymous

    I think it is inevitable that he or she will hear some comments on race. But educating him or her on the fact that all kinds of people exist in the world and you dont need to react to all is good.

  2. Anonymous

    I have had color questions too. But usually I answer by mentioning that people are all different. As for being called by the color, it may make sense to invest in a good school district or school which is quite diverse

  3. Khushi

    Thank you both for your comments. I agree on the school district. Also, on educating of course. I think I am a but paranoid or over protective at this point.

  4. yasmin talgeri

    Yes, I agree..It’s inevitable.
    Toddlers are just stating the obvious..which is actually a correct observation, and not a value judgement. And by the way we react to it, they form their views.
    So it’s important to make them realize that people can be different in many ways- color/ race/ fat/short… And help them create a positive self image.

  5. Sands

    Yasmin’s had made a beatiful suggestion. My daughter also calls herself light brown and asked me once how come some ppl are not light brown and I told her that just like there are so many butterflies and how they all are different color and they all look beautiful, the same way people from various parts of the world , all look different and everyone is beautiful in their own way and because of all this colorful presence we get to live in a beautiful world.

  6. Khushi

    Thanks, Yasmin and Sands. I think they are just stating what is just another characteristic to them. I like your answer, Sands. And that we should just treat it as another characteristic – just like tall, short etc. Thanks, Guys.

  7. Indrani

    Racism exists everywhere… even in India! If not color, its the state one belongs to…. one is referred as a Punjabi, South Indian, Bengali, Baniya and so on and so forth…. or even as pretty, dark, fair, fat, short blah blah blah. I guess the most important thing is to make the child confident and comfortable for whatever he or she is and I guess that comes basically from parents.

  8. Khushi

    Indrani, very interesting and correct perspective. It reminded me of how people are branded according to their regions, and sometimes not favorably and how they learn to live with it. Thanks.

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