Zara picked up one of her dolls while playing in her room the other day. While playing, she asked me why I always buy brown dolls.
It took me a second to answer the question because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t talking over her head or defaulting to the “because I can” explanation.
I explained to her that when I grew up, I there weren’t many dolls that looked like me. I wanted to make sure she knew that she was worthy of being celebrated, even when she played.
I thought that would do it.
She said that there are a lot of “beige” kids and only “like 2 brown kids” at her school.
I talked to her about being unique and how being different is actually pretty awesome.
She then said something that kind of shook me.
She said when she sees “beige” people she thinks of God and when she sees brown people she thinks of the devil because things that are dark are usually bad.
I swallowed the knot in my throat and decided not to run in a corner and cry. This was my time. I had to do it right or I would lose this battle forever. (Dramatic much, lol)
My daughter is aware that she is different and it is at these moments that I must pour into her like never before.
She told me that in all the pictures she sees of Jesus, he is “beige.” (She watches a few biblical Youtube videos). I explained to her that those pictures are of models “portraying” Jesus much like her favorite character from the movie Descendants is played by the actress, China McClain.
I tried my best to affirm that she is beautiful and if no one ever says it to her, she has to know it from deep within herself.
I then began naming all of her families members who have delicious chocolate skin and asked her if she thought they were “bad or evil.” She shook her head emphatically.
I am sharing this because maybe there are other parents who have to go through this and can’t find the right words. Or maybe you are a teacher and you still don’t understand why it’s important to affirm students of ALL ethnic backgrounds so that they don’t have to question where they fit in any given space.
It’s not the school’s job to teach my child self love. It’s mine. I take that job seriously but it should be a pillar of every educator’s philosophy to make differences normal.
Until that happens, I will never shy away from this conversation or making sure that the schools my kids’ attend make efforts to close that gap.
Have you had to have a “You’re awesome” talk with your child for any reason?