The idea for “Going There” came about as a result of the 31 Days In My Brown Skin series I wrote in October, 2012. (You can read those posts here.) The series generated a lot of valuable dialogue, and when the thirty-one days were over, it felt as if the conversation wasn’t done. So, I invite you to share your story as it relates to issues of race, ethnicity, and culture in your every day life.
The goal of “Going There” is to encourage ongoing dialogue about topics of race, ethnicity, and culture in a way that is thoughtful and that shows respect, with the goal of advancing our understanding of the beautiful diversity in the humanity that surrounds us. Interested in sharing your story? Start here. Today’s post is written by Rebecca Borger.
I am a white woman with a 2 1/2 year old little boy. When we are out and about, my son will consistently point out the “brown” people. In Costco, at the playground, at the restaurant table next to us: “Mommy, see that brown man?” He still can’t identify his own skin color. Orange? Pink? He’s soundly rejected white, and I have to agree that our skin looks nothing like our printer paper!
We live in the Denver suburbs, where the African-American population is pretty low (especially compared to what I was used to in Atlanta, where I grew up), so he doesn’t see many black people, and we’d not had intentional talks about race and skin color before he started doing this about the time he turned two.
Given all of that, I think his comments are his expression of and interest in differences. I usually reply with, “Yes, I see him. Isn’t that beautiful that God made people with so many different colors of skin?” And we move on.
So my first question is, what do you think about my answer? What would you think if you were the person we were talking about? Maybe you have a story?
My former boss is black, and she said she wouldn’t be offended by him pointing it out. She suggested we include books and videos that feature people of color in his regular rotation to continue his exposure. (And Deidra suggested dolls of color.)
My boss also pointed out that the black community talks about race with their children from an early age, while white people tend to sweep race under the rug in a misguided effort to be colorblind. (Did you see this last spring?) Personally, I found my son’s “true color” descriptions thought-provoking, and haven’t yet introduced him to the labels “black” and “white”, but I think I need to do so. As he nears age three, he is beginning to talk about the concepts of differences, fairness, loving others, etc. it seems a perfect opportunity to begin race conversations.
Even as I still have much growing to do myself, I really want to raise my children with a godly perspective of race, and I look forward with gratitude to this conversation!
Rebecca Borger grew up in Atlanta, and has lived in Denver for all of her adult life. She’s so grateful for being exposed to this contrast of cultures, as God has used the people in these very different places to expand her mind and heart. Rebecca formerly worked in the non-profit world at FRIENDS FIRST, Inc., contributing to teens’ relational health across Denver and the nation. She now chases a toddler son and coos at an infant daughter for a living, and loves it!