Brown Like Mommy
May 3, 2017 § Leave a comment
Recently, my five year old has been saying a phrase that, frankly, upset me. Upset me meaning, it woke me up to a reality I don’t think I truly thought I would have to face.
“One day, I’m gonna be brown like you, Mommy.”
You see, I am Latina. I look Latina, brown skin, dark brown eyes, thick, dark hair. I married a white man, and our children are white. I joke most of the time, that people must think that I am the nanny because my kids look nothing like me.
I love my bi racial family! Don’t get me wrong. I love that my children are white, the way I would have loved that they were born with olive skin. I am a product of a bi racial family. My dad is white, and my mom is first generation Puerto Rican.
All of this being said, when my son rubs his arm on me and says, “Look mommy! Now I’m brown like you!” I feel a twinge of sadness. Sadness because I don’t want to disappoint him by letting him know being brown like me isn’t possible. Not because I want him to be brown, but because he wants to be.
I know some people may think this is a nonissue, something that will work itself out, and in a way I agree. I know some think that children don’t see color, they love and accept everyone, and that they only see color because of the attitudes of the people around them. Some may say, my son sees color because I’ve taught him to do so. And to that I say this…
It has not been my experience that my children have been color blind. I don’t think they need to be. My son sees that I’m brown, but does not know that that makes any difference. He doesn’t know about the struggle between white people and people of color. He doesn’t associate color and hate. He sees that people are different but that doesn’t affect his opinions or attitudes toward people who are different than him. This is the way I want him and my daughter to grow up. I don’t believe we need to be blind to the things that make us different, but that we don’t view those differences as something that divides us.
Still, how do I tell my son he won’t ever been brown like me? I don’t want to disappoint him, or change that sweet innocent idea inside of him. I love that he wants to look like me, I would be lying if I didn’t say a small part of me wouldn’t love him to be. But what do I say? How do I handle that? Usually, I will change the subject. Distract him with an activity. But he starts school soon, and what if a little kid tells him that he won’t ever be brown like me? Should I address it before then? And how?
Just a few thoughts.
Until next time…