The World Isn’t All Vanilla, Baby Dear

by admin on May 14, 2009

My daughter, about age 2, going on 3 was sitting in the grocery cart when an African American lady pulled in the queue after us.  It was at this exact moment that my daughter made the realization that some people are black and some people aren’t…oh boy.  She says to the lady, “Hey!”  The lady said, “Yes…”  My daughter looks at her very critically, head cocked to one side and said, “You’re black, aren’t you?”  I was praying at this point that the conversation would end and SOON…the lady said, “Yes, I am.”  Most kids at this point would say, “Oh, okay.” But not my daughter.  She says, “Do you like it?” Luckily the lady had a good sense of humor and said, “Usually.”  I could have died! 09-06-08

What was there to be ashamed or embarrased about?  Children at that age have a view of their world that is uncluttered with politics and stereotypes.  Out of the abundance of curiousity, their little mouths pop forth with all kinds of interesting queries.  It was an endearing moment which was handled well.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky May 14, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Oh my goodness, how adorable! How wonderful that the woman was gracious and didn’t take chose to take offense.

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LB May 15, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I agree, I think it was a cute moment and I’m glad the lady had a good sense of humor.

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Hellbound Alleee June 16, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Sounds like a nice woman, and it sounds like you did a good job with your kid.

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Alexis July 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm

All 3 of you sound very sweet!

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Laura M. February 11, 2010 at 1:53 am

When my kids were little (3-5ish?) I brought home a carton of brown eggs. Oldest was really surprised when I went to cook one- she figured that if white eggs were yellow and white inside, then the brown eggs should be brown, right? So I explained that the brown eggs were the same inside as the white eggs, just like how people can be different colors on the outside, but the same inside (simplistic, but we’re talking pre-schoolers here). Got the “ohhh” and sudden comprehension on her face.

Her brother didn’t care what color the eggs were on the outside- only that he got some on his plate!

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kendy April 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm

When I was 6 years old my family went on a vacation to Florida. We drove down and ate McDonald’s for several meals and my mom was sick of it. So while we were in Georgia we stopped in at a mom and pop diner. My younger sister and I grew up in rural Canada and up until that point had never seen a black person before. Imagine our surprise when we suddenly entered an establishment where we were the only white people. My sister then turns to my mom and ask “Why are all these people made of chocolate?”. My mom tried to ignore her question and hoped no one else heard. My sister then yelled “WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE MADE OF CHOCOLATE?”. I have never seen my mom’s face go as red as it did and we high tailed it out of there.
P.S In the car on the way to the hotel my mom did say something to the effect that it was just like how some people have different hair colour, some people have different skin colour.

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Caitlin April 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Kendy: I totally giggled at your sister’s loud question!

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Mike June 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Late to the party here, but I did something similar as a kid… like Kendy I grew up in a part of Canada with basically no black population – tons of Asians, Indians, and First Nations, but nobody darker than a light brown. On a trip to the US at the age of maybe 4 I spotted an African-American gentleman in a restaurant and loudly told my parents “That guy looks like Sesame Street!”

The only black person I’d seen up to that point was Gordon on Sesame Street, y’see…

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Kimbubbley June 23, 2010 at 9:43 am

I LOVE this story!! I am currently going through these sorts of things with my kids who are old enough to notice the differences among people but not yet couth enough to keep their observations to themselves!! With any luck, I’ll keep running into people with a sense of humor like the lady, here.

When I was tiny (4-5 years old), my mom and dad had great friends who were originally from Jamaica. Uncle Danny has a penchant for describing exactly HOW dark he is in rather colorful terms but, at that age, I didn’t notice.

My mother, all Irish and pale as pale can be, was one particular summer trying her best to get a tan. This is all but impossible.

I was sitting on Uncle Danny’s lap at the pool, rubbing his arm and his chest and very obviously deep in thought. All of the adults at the table knew that I was about to say SOMETHING about the color of his skin and were trying to carry on a conversation while I decided what I needed to say. Uncle Danny couldn’t take it any more and finally asked in his beautiful accent, “Darling, what are you looking so hard at?” I evidently sighed mightily and told him, “You really need to tell Mommy what kind of lotion YOU put on YOUR skin when you go outside because nothing she’s using is getting her tan, AT ALL.”

There was a mass exodus to the bathroom before they all wet themselves in mirth.

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Ali August 20, 2010 at 10:50 am

My sister and cousin, who are the same age, had a friend named Gideon in their class who was Black. My cousin had a birthday party and invited Gideon. When Gideon’s mom came to pick him up and brought his brother, my cousin loudly told his mother “Hey mom! Gideon’s brother is brown too!”

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Shayna August 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

You know, it’s funny how things seem so simple if we take the time to step back and look at them through the eyes of our children. They don’t know hate, racism, stereotypes, etc. It’s the adults and our ridiculous behaviours that make all of this seem so political. My niece, who is my brother’s stepdaughter, is 1/2 black, and I think she’s the most beautiful little girl I know. But one day in school, one of her classmates, 7 at the time, walked up to her and said “I don’t like black people.” My poor niece was heartbroken. And all I could think when my SIL told me this was “How awful that that little girl is simply repeating the BS her parents are teaching her, and she doesn’t even know how hurtful and hateful that statement is.” I am of English, Irish, French and Miqmaq descent, raised by a Inuit/English Metis family. I feel rather blessed to have grown up with such a mixture of culture and ethnicity. I think that we, as a species, should “see” colour, but only to celebrate our differences, and to be proud of who we are.

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Polly August 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

A friend of mine told me a story about her son. He was chatting about a friend of his. She wasn’t sure who he was referring to, so she asked ‘Is that the black boy in your class?’ (they too live in an area where the vast majority of people are white). Her son considered for a moment and said ‘Oh, I don’t know if he’s black. I’ll ask him tomorrow.’

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Dazee October 1, 2010 at 9:01 pm

I had a ‘Study Buddy’ program that I had been enrolled to in middle school. As to why or what that is isn’t really relevant to the story, but it is to know that they were having a little ‘graduation’ for us after we completed the program, it wasn’t anything big, and was held in a classroom. My mother ended up arriving a little late toting my much younger brother in a baby carrier and my younger sister, about 3 at the time, and hurried over to an available desk. A couple of African American boys (about my age at the time, so 12ish) came in and ended up sitting in the desks across from them (the desks were facing each other). My younger sister looked very hard at them and then down at her hand.. she did this a few times before proclaiming. “I’M WHITE!” In a very proud and loud voice. My mother was nearly mortified and embarrassed, worried about how the two boys might take it. They both had very good senses of humor and just kind of laughed, one even saying. “Yes, yes you are.”

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sharon February 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

i have a similiar story. I am AA, and once lived in a nearly white town.

I was entering an ice cream shop when a little girl, about 2, was coming out.

She stopped, looked at me, and said “You’re black!” She was so happy and tickled pink (no pun intended).

her mom seemed embarrassed, but I thought it was funny! I said, “Why yes I am!”

It has been years, but I still remember this sweet innocent child.

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