“It doesn’t matter what color you are, we’re all the same.”
“I don’t see skin color.”
While people may have good intentions when they say things like this, what they don’t realize is that these statements can be damaging.
I’m a black mom raising biracial kids. When my kids look at me, it’s obvious that we are different. We share similar features and both share a shade of brown, but it’s obvious to them that they are a mixture of mom and dad.
My kids noticed pretty early on (totally on their own) that we have similarities and differences.
In fact, my four year old makes (almost daily) observations about our family. She often asks me questions about my hair, body (all the fun private body part questions) and why I do things the way I do.
If I were to answer her questions with “we’re all the same” I think she would be utterly confused.
Why do we associate differences with negativity?
What would happen if we just appreciated differences for what they are instead of being ashamed of noticing them?
When children notice differences, our response seems to be to redirect them on what we have in common.
Why don’t we use those natural observations to our advantage and teach our kids about the world?
Take these observations and turn them into teachable moments.
I am not biracial, so there will be some experiences that my children have that I cannot relate to.
However, as a minority, I can offer them advice based on my own experiences. I can teach them to be confident in the skin they are in.
It’s Who We Are
If we tell our children that we are all the same, one day they will discover that we are not. And then what?
Growing up a military base, differences were intriguing. I loved learning about a new place from my peers travels. We often ate ethnic foods at each other’s homes and it was just as exciting as watching a new movie.
I learned to appreciate differences because it was my normal.
Appreciating differences can be normal if you teach your kids that race is just a description. Noticing that a peer has a difference skin color is just one simple way to describe their appearance, but it doesn’t make up all of who that person is.
And in a day and age of some much racism and bias based on skin color, it’s important to me for my children to learn that there are good and bad people of every race.
When people say, “I don’t see color” they may be afraid of what will happen if they do. Sometimes seeing someone’s color opens our eyes and makes us more culturally aware. It can make us sensitive to their needs, even if their experiences aren’t ours.
How will that change the way you think about me if I am different from you? What does that mean?
I want my children to see skin color. I want them to learn that people have different religions, customs, skin color & languages that set us apart. These differences are to be celebrated!