Children begin to notice the difference in people’s skin color fairly early on. They innocently make comments that an adult would never get away with. Sometimes those comments about skin color are ironically spot on. This is the current understanding of skin color according to our five-year-old.
We watched the second presidential debate together as a family. Although my husband and I typically vote for opposing candidates every election and our kids are still very young (probably too young to truly understand the election process), we thought it’d be a good idea to try to watch at least some portion of the debate and use it as a teachable moment. While we were watching, we explained the election process (very briefly and simply). We also explained that our current president is Barack Obama, the candidate running against him is Mitt Romney, and a debate was an opportunity for candidates to share their views.
I paused the debate when Barack Obama was on the screen.
Then I asked Lil Pig, “What is the color of President Obama’s skin?”
My Lil Pig took a few seconds to think about it and then answered, “He’s tan.” My husband and I did our best not to chuckle.
Then I asked him, “What is the color of mommy’s skin?” As he laughed, he said, “Mommy, you’re tan, too and so am I!” I laughed as well. Although I’m Asian and society calls Asians “yellow”, I agree with Lil Pig that I’m more tan than yellow.
The conclusion from this conversation: President Obama, although half white and half black and I, although 100% Asian, have the same skin color.
A few moments later, I paused the debate when Mitt Romney was on the screen.
Then I asked Lil Pig, “What is the color of Mitt Romney’s skin?”
My Lil Pig took longer to think about this question and then finally answered, “He’s peach.” My husband and I could not hold back our laughter.
I told him that he was right. Mitt Romney’s skin color looked peach.
The conclusion from this conversation: I wonder if white skin color should instead be called peach.
I know skin color can be very sensitive and difficult but open discussions often help to break the cycle of discrimination. I hope this innocent conversation is just the beginning of ongoing meaningful conversations with our children regarding skin color, race, and ethnicity.
Have you ever had a discussion with your child(ren) about skin color? If so, at what age and how did it go? I’d love to hear your stories! As always, thank you for reading!