Ok, so I have no idea what the right way to handle kids’ questions about skin color, but I will tell you how I’ve been handling it: head on, with enthusiasm and positivity. Then I take a deep breath and remind myself of these two things: First, children have virtually no filter and often say whatever pops into their mind. Second, and perhaps most important: Your reaction to what they say has the power to shape their opinions—so use it wisely.
I’m browner than the average white population, and I live in a neighborhood where my color is underrepresented. My child’s classroom is almost entirely white. So it shouldn’t have surprised me when, in my child’s schoolyard, a white preschooler suddenly blurted out at me: “You’re black.”
I’m not one to be sensitive about people bringing up skin color, but preschoolers have a way of disarming you. And so this comment, coming from a child who has been to our home on numerous playdates, caught me off guard.
Even before becoming a mother, I’ve fielded skin color comments from white children. While in the pool at a resort in Mexico with my then fiance, a six-year-old befriended us and talked about everything under the sun, including my skin color, my hair texture and how white my teeth looked. I tell myself that this happened because I must be extremely approachable. But I also chalk it up to the reality that some white children are underexposed to people of color in social situations. The only people of color…
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