My children are colorblind.
I find it interesting that somehow I have managed to raise colorblind children. I never fully believed that it was possible. I was taught that race was something innate in the human species, that each one of us would know what race is and if we were or were not a part of any particular race. I questioned that belief. And now I see proof through my children that race is something learned.
I was ironing my girls hair in the bathroom when I got to asking questions about their classmates. Some girls had straight hair and others didn’t. I wanted to know what kind of hair their classmates had and I asked if they were black. My eldest looked at me like I was funny, not in a ha-ha way and flat out told me there was no such thing as black people! I was stunned and very proud. She was adamant there was no such thing and told me in no uncertain terms that I was trying to pull a fast one on her. She’s only eight years old.
Race was never a line of thought I feel comfortable in teaching them. So I tried to ask my question another way. Well, what color are they. Tan. Flabbergasted I asked what color am I. Peach. My husband. Brown. To my daughters minds, we are all colored like a box of crayons and it has nothing to do with race.
All I wanted to know was if the girls with straight hair in their class was either Hispanic or Black as this makes a difference in how their hair is straighten and I was wanting to talk about all the different ways hair can be treated to make it straight. But race or call it ethnicity comes up when it comes to hair. Looking back at this, there are others ways to discuss hair issues without consideration of race.
Facing their innocence, and yes it is the innocence of childhood– I dropped the entire conversation. I have no wish to pop this endearing innocence in their lives. They know nothing of hatred, nothing of hating based on race. Oh, but I did at their age.
My parents were extreme. Fundamentalist Christians that had no allegiance to any church but my father as the de facto kitchen table bible thumbing preacher slash head of the household as mandated by God himself. Race was an important issue to my parents. It choose who my friends were. It ruled who I could play with and where I could go. It ruled how I was to behave with others.
Race was also very important to my classmates as well. I was the outsider, not of their race. And it also determined how I was treated, who I could play with and where I could go. I understood at an early age that I was hated solely based on the color of my skin. How is it at ages of six and seven that race is such an important issue?
It seamed a reasonable premise, that understanding race is innate in humanity. My childhood seamed to prove the idea. Until I had my own children to raise. I will never raise my kids to view race as important and I never have. So when just tip toeing around the question makes me so uncomfortable and I find my children colorblind, I have to ask – How did this happen?
Race is taught. Racism is taught at home. From parent to child, it is taught and then reinforced over and over as to where racism exists. What’s worse is the idea of race is false. It is not a biological reality and it never was. Race has been a sociological and political construct designed to preserve power for the cultural “elite” in the United States.
Race is about the business of hate. It creates that boundary of “us verse them” and historically been used to justify inequality and injustice as “morally right.” Race is not a social concept that should be accepted as a reality. It should be confronted for the falsehood that it is and rejected at every turn. Reality is simple. Skin color is not race. Culture is not race. Culture is not skin color. Hate should never be encouraged.