I have never posted about skin color before. I’m about to open a whole can of worms but that’s okay. It needs talking about. We tend to avoid this topic as it suddenly feels like we are a big clumsy elephant trying to dance through a china store. Today I write nothing new, ground-breaking or even intelligent, just a smattering of thoughts, as a mom, trying to figure out how to navigate this sea of political correctness and reality.
Here is a question for you to consider before we start.
Would you buy your white babies a brown baby doll? Would you buy your white babies books with a brown main character? Why or why not?
Now, as I parent two brown-skinned babies, who are forming their own identity of what is beautiful, I am more aware. One luxury of white privilege is that we don’t even notice it, we may complete deny its existence (which is another topic).
Our culture presents a subtle message that lighter is more beautiful. Recently it was time to get The Littles a comforter of their choosing. The comforter set they wanted to get:
I redirected. We chose a different one. Yes, there is a place for perfect-figured, blond-haired beauties but I don’t want my girls to have this princess standard of beauty (and it was just hideously gawdy).
Then there is the whole “Beyonce controversy”. Yes, even gorgeous Beyonce must be feeling the pressure of a culture, the unspoken message that lighter is more beautiful, more market-able or at least more acceptable. Look at her past advertisements compared to more recent ones.
As research has been done on parents and the way they are educating their children on skin color, it’s been shown that it is a topic largely ignored. We want our children to be “color-blind” but by not discussing this issue with our children (who are very observant), it results in them coming to their own conclusions brought on by subtle social cues and the media. What if Christian parents took the same approach to teaching their children about sex? What kind of lies would our kiddos pick up? Click here for a very insightful article on this topic.
We quietly sit by as the media forms for them a twisted perception of race. Our kids measure themselves and decide themselves as superior and inferior. We need to be proactively teaching a Biblical view of race, there is ONE race. We all descended from man. In response to the question, “Would you be comfortable with your child marrying a different race?” I heard a prominent pastor answer, “Of course NOT. My child can only marry another human being!”
We have to tackle this topic in our own hearts and then with our children. One object lesson that I’ve adapted as a starting point for young children comes from the book “I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla”. Sit down with your kids and a bowl of M&Ms.
Talk about the differences they observe. Yes, the reds do look different than the yellows. Doesn’t it make it pretty to have a mixture of colors. Wouldn’t a bowl be so boring with only blue M&M’s?
When your kids bite in, look inside, it is all the same. Like us, maybe different in our coloring, our weight, socio-economic status, etc but it’s okay. It’s good. We are each uniquely created by God. Isn’t He creative?
Here are some books that are helpful too. These aren’t just for adoptive families trying to affirm an adoptive child of a different background. These are books we should all have, especially if everyone around your family is vanilla. ;)
Could we make our toy boxes a little more representative of the colors of the world? Could our bookshelves be full of stories of heroes with all shades of skin?
Do you have ideas for intentionally teaching about diversity?