As parents, do we inadvertently teach our kids to recognize the differences among individuals all while preaching that God created us as equals? The other day while reading Ramona and her Mother by Beverly Cleary to my eight year-old, she commented "Stop reading it like a black person, they're white." At the time all I could do was hand her the book back and shake my head (mommy faux pas # 1: missed the teachable moment). After seeing the reactions of folks on Facebook (mommy faux pas #2), mostly in applause, and speaking with my husband, it made me reflect back on how I'm rearing my children.
A few years back, my daughter was constantly saying how she wished she had blond hair and blue eyes. I partially attributed this to the lack of images of young (6-10yrs) black children in mainstream kids media (ie. Nickelodeon, Disney Channel). And while it is getting better, the images we still still hardly ever look like her. So at the time, wanting my child to understand how beautiful she is and that beauty comes in many shades, I subscribed to Essence to show her what she didn't see on tv. I wasn't trying to purposely cause a racial divide, but to merely boost her confidence and instill some pride. Now I wonder, did I do the wrong thing?
If you look at my family, where we come in such a vast range of skin tones and hair textures, how can you not see the beauty in God's diversity. I'm thankful that my children aren't growing up in the segregated south of years ago, though if we turn on the news, Trayvon Martin's death tells us we aren't but so far removed from it. I suppose the best thing I can do for my daughter and son is to expose them to images of varying backgrounds (Dora, The Cosby Show, Hannah Montana), seize the teachable moments, and teach them that none is better than the other. We'll continue to read Essence and American Girl books and listen to Beyonce and Adele. And as my motherly duty, I'll always tell them how beautiful/handsome and smart they are. We are truly all part of God's beautiful rainbow of children and should be acknowledged as such.