I do not share “personal” stories on my blog that often, but this one was kind of a big deal to me…you have to read it all the way through to get the point.
During a car ride with my three children to get my Diet Coke, which is something very routine that I do many times a day, one of my boys (my 5 year-old) asked me a question, “Mom, are the guys who have lighter skin good and the ones who have darker skin bad?”
I immediately hit my inner panic button, which had a red light blinking, and I could hear the alarm going off in my brain. I almost slammed on the brakes. Why would he ask me this? Where would he have heard something like that? What the hell is going on? I looked back at his sweet little face and did the best I could. I explained to him that having darker skin makes absolutely no difference in whether a person is good or bad. I went on and on reaching from everyplace I could find within myself to have this conversation. I knew what to say, but not how to say it to a five year-old.
We don’t discuss people’s skin color in our house. It’s not something that is brought up. There is actually a reason for this, and that’s because I want my kids to see people as being people, and not as being a certain race. My kids have no idea that they are a “white” person and they don’t use the word “black” person. Not that its a bad thing to say black or white, it’s just something I would rather not matter to them. For example, my 5 year-old is very good friends with a little boy who is from India. When I asked which one out of the class he was so that I could meet his parents and talk to them about a play date, he simply described him as “ya know, the one I play with at recess. He’s a little taller than me and has brown skin and he thinks I’m hilarious.”
Anyway, I was sweating balls and determined to drive the point home about how skin color makes no difference. We got to my caffeine castle, which I needed at that point more than ever. I stopped the car, put it in park, and looked in the back of my van at my three sweet boys’ faces. I felt like I had just put in overtime and was nervous as to whether I had just performed this ten minute monologue correctly.
“Do you understand what I’m saying buddy?” I asked.
He looked me at me like I was batshit crazy. “Mom…come on, I know all of that. I meant on Minecraft. You know how like the Creepers are green, white, and black and the Endermen are black with purples eyes. The Zombie Pigs are like all kinds of weird colors. Herobrine looks like Stevie except he has white eyes, he’s a really bad guy, the baddest guy you could ever see. He can beat a giant robot with just one hit. I just didn’t know if you can tell who the bad guys are by what color they are. They are just all different colors.”
My (almost ) 7 year-old chimed in. “Yeah mom, he’s talking about Minecraft. We know that God makes everyone the same and people have the choice whether to be good or bad in real life. Come on, Mom. You really think we didn’t know that?”
Well, guess what?…I treated myself to a Route 44 Diet Coke, instead of my usual Large Diet Coke. The kids got milkshakes and I enjoyed my ride all the way home, and was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. I had just realized that as imperfect as I am, that I have done something right! It’s about fucking time!!
Just one more tidbit: I am aware that one day they will have to learn that some people do make an issue out of race. I am just so glad that they will not be one of them. There is one slight exception. My oldest son did ask me once if it was possible to get his skin darker because he wants to be like LeBron James. I’m sorry, but that’s cute. Who could blame him? LeBron is the man! 🙂