There is a video going around showing that kids are not color blind (embedded below). They see race. Transracial adoptees have been aware of this. I didn’t need to be told I was different from my adoptive parents. I saw race. I just didn’t know what it was.
I witnessed this firsthand last weekend. The moment took me back to my preschool and elementary school days when kids would ask what I was…
I was watching two children play. One was East Asian, the other wasn’t. The non-Asian looked at her new playmate and asked, “How do you know how to speak English if you are Chinese?” There was zero discussion about where either child came from or what race/ethnicity they are. Their entire interaction can be boiled down to: two children approached a Connect-4 game, they started playing, one child got curious about the other.
Children show genuine curiosity all of the time. They ask questions honestly and want to learn a little bit more about someone Unfortunately, other people can influence children and what they say. How else would children have known to ask me if I eat dog or if I was thrown in a trash can when I was born? I think back on those moments, and I know those fellow students did not come up with those ideas on their own.
Yes, children see race. They are not color blind. In my experience, I haven’t seen a child’s acknowledgement of race become racism without someone teaching it first. What are your children picking up from TV, radio, conversations you think they can’t hear? Are you hoping they don’t see color, or are you teaching them that humans of all colors are equal and beautiful? Are you teaching yourself those same values?
I see nothing wrong with seeing color. Not when you are validating someone’s identity and celebrating their unique background. Seeing color becomes an issue when one sees color as less than. Perhaps it’s when people forbid children to talk about race that results in children finding race and people of color bad. You don’t forbid conversation about something good, right? Don’t be colorblind around me, because then you don’t see me or acknowledge the unique experience I have as a woman of color. Celebrate being unique. Celebrate overcoming challenges with diverse backgrounds. Recognize that we see differences immediately and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
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