“Daddy, I wish there weren’t any Black people.”
Taking a deep breath, I respond to my daughter with a wish of my own.
I’ve begun to see that it’s not about having the “right” answers when kids ask about race. Don’t get me wrong: I think there are better and worse answers to offer. There’s also a lot to be said for having a calm, thoughtful answer in the first place, sending the important signal that it’s fine to talk about race openly.
At the end of the school day this past fall, I drove to pick up my 5 year-old daughter, Estella, from kindergarten. As we walked down the steps outside, Estella said she felt like walking instead of driving. It was a beautiful day, and so I happily agreed to take a walk around the block and then drive home.
We were at the tipping point of the New England autumn. Some of the leaves were beginning to turn yellow, and a few were already burning red. We were admiring the colors as Estella skipped along, her little hand in mine, when she said, “Daddy, I wish that we lived in a world where people couldn’t change their skin color.”
I’ve been intentional about talking race with Estella. As a White father with a multiracial daughter, I don’t have any sort of grand strategy beyond teaching her that race and skin color are only tangentially related. “Black” people don’t have skin that is the color black, “White” people don’t have skin that is the color white, many “Black” people have lighter skin than some “White” people, and so on. So when we talk about racial categories, I’ll often say, “Isn’t it silly that we use those words to describe people? They’re just made up.”
But I’m also careful to explain that even though race is made up, it gets people hurt, traumatized, and even killed. I’ve told her that the people we call “Black” are more likely to be treated unfairly by the police just because of the way that they look…
Read the entire article here.