I started a new book a few weekends ago and I am really enjoying it. It is called I'M CHOCOLATE, YOU'RE VANILLA by Marguerite A. Wright. This book has been highly recommended to me for a while now and I'm super glad I sat down to dive into it a few weeks ago.
If you have been around my oldest son Cayden for any time you know that his favorite color is white. Weird, I know, but none the less he is sticking to this as his favorite color. I have tried to tell him that really white is not a color, but yet the lack of color. I've suggested red, blue, orange, green, even black for goodness sake. Nope. White is still his favorite color.
A couple of months ago Cayden started noticing that him and his brother have different skin tones. He noticed that he is white (which happens to be his favorite color) and Deacon is brown. He also noticed that Mommy is brown like Deacon and Daddy is white like Cayden. Recently he has started convincing Deacon that his favorite color should be brown because that is what color he is.
We have never made a big deal out of this and always encouraged them that God made them perfectly how they are. God made lots of people in different colors and different bodies, etc. It has never bothered me before until recently Cayden started proclaiming that his favorite color is white because he is white. He tried to convince Deacon that his favorite color should be brown since he is brown. Once again we didn't overreact to this and encouraged him that Deacon could pick any color he wanted to be his favorite not just brown.
I would cringe when I would think about Cayden someday saying this in public. It is one thing to say this at home in a safe place, but if someone would hear him they would think he was a racist 4 year old who must hear things like this at home. Reading this book has eased my fears so much about this. The truth is that Cayden has no idea that this concept of his favorite color being white because he is white could sound racist. He is four and doesn't know the things that I know as a 29 year old. The author explained that preschool children don't know race, but yet they know color. Cayden doesn't know that his race is white, just that his skin is. He doesn't know that Deacon's race is black, just that his skin is brown.
I was so thankful to read this book and see her perspective on things. One of my favorite quotes from the book is on page 35 and it says this .. “Preschoolers are at a wonderful time of life that provides parents and educators with an exceptional opportunity to nurture their natural inclination to see people as individuals, not as stereotypes.” I love that! My four year doesn't know the stereotypes that the rest of the world knows. Therefore I can't expect him to talk in a way that monitors those stereotypes. He is a little boy who sees things just how they are and has no preconceived notions on anyone of any color. I love the eyes and hearts of children. Couldn't we all learn a little something from them!
She says on page 54 that “For most preschoolers, people's skin color, even Santa's, is simply a physical fact; it carries no social baggage of the kind adults bring to it.” We must remember that our preschooler's are just seeing people and not the stereotypes that our culture has already created.
I highly recommend this book to any person who works in the education field. It is a great wealth of information on raising and teaching black and biracial children in a race-conscious world. I will finish the preschool section soon and put it back on to the shelf until my kids get in elementary school. I have a feeling this will be a book I go back to many a times in the next 20 something years of raising kids.
Have you read it? What are your thoughts? Any other great books for a mom raising black children?
Anyone have a funny story of something your kid said that to adults sounds bad but to kids it doesn't?