Since we are living in a foreign country, atleast for now, I had quite expected my daughter to approach me asking why we were different from the rest of the people around us.
So yes,it would be wrong to say that I was surprised when my daughter came to me yesterday night and asked me why she was black.
I asked her if somebody called her black. She shrugged and told me that nobody did.I let it be. But soon she came back and asked me again if she was indeed black. “Am I not white ?” she asked putting her arms forward, showing me her skin color.
My daughter goes to a day care with kids from mixed races. Never had she appeared curious on why each of them looked different.And I was damn sure that she had never seen one of those stupid fairness cream ads.
“You are not black, your skin color is dark” I told her.Again I asked her why she was suddenly interested in what her color was. In a very low voice she grumbled that her friend, A ,had told her she was black.”But I am not black right? M is black, I am not, am I?”
What bothered me was the fact that she felt really disturbed when she was called ‘black’! No, I don’t think my daughter’s friend , merely five, was being racist.Nor was I offended or anything, because the kid in question, A, is a very sweet girl and my daughter’s best friend. They hang out together and care about each other. She, I am sure, never would have intended to hurt my daughter. It should have been a casual comment because yes, we do not have fair skin.
I asked my daughter if she thought being dark skinned was a bad thing, because if yes she was wrong.She appeared to be thinking about it. I added- “Do you love Ms N?”(Ms N is one of her teachers who is dark skinned). “Yes I do” she replied.”Is she pretty” I asked again. “Yes..” she did not have to think twice.”Is she smart?” Again she agreed.
“What about Ms H?”( her other teacher who is fair skinned)
“Yes, I love her too”
“And your friends,A and M, they both are good kids right, both are smart and are fun to be with…?”
“Mmmmm…” she agreed.
“And do you like Amma, I am not white am I?”
“So what does that mean?” I asked her
“That the color of the skin doesn’t matter…Some people have fair skin, some have dark skin, some people are brown”
“But why Amma…?” she asks again.
I told her that if everyone was the same color the world would have been one boring place. What if all flowers in the garden were of the same color? What if all the birds and animals were of the same color?
“We would go to the zoo and see only white animals or black animals…yuck….won’t that be boring….?”
She laughed and nodded.
“so God made us all different so that the world will not be a boring place….and the color of one’s skin doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do, if you do good things you are a good person..got it?”
I proceeded with a made up story of a princess( for her to relate the protagonist always has to be a princess) who was born with purple skin. I told her how the good hearted princess used to brood over her skin color and later an angel came down and told her that she indeed was the bestest person in the world because she was always good to others!
I am not sure if she understood, but she agreed and seemed a little less concerned about the fact that she was not fair skinned.Nor am I sure if I should have just ignored her remarks.
I really hope I have convinced her and have not instead confused her further!
I guess I have to be a little more careful in approaching my daughter’s questions in the future… 🙂