Children and Skin Color


Question (from a madar, originally posted on UCB-Parents Digest, Sept 1997)
Mom, what color am I?
I need help understanding this issue, and explaining it to my 4-yr daughter. This has been coming up since she was 2, but I kept ignoring it for two reasons: 1) I really did not know what to say, 2) I thought she will forget it soon. but the issue keeps coming up and I need to learn what to do and how to react.
We are from middle-east and my daughter has a sort of dark complexion, slightly darker than my own and closer to my husband's. When she was 2, she kept asking me:"mom, am I black?" I did not know what to say. I didn't want to say "no" and draw a distinctive line between people, and didn't want to say "yes" and lie to her.( there were certain factors in her school at the time that I thought contributed to this issue and I hoped that would go away once she would change shcool)
she changed her school and has been in a different school for the past 1.5 years. now, she keeps asking me:"mom, why am I darker than you?" and she is particularly very close to one of her teachers who is half African-American and her skin tone is exactly like my daughter's. She calls that teacher "mom" in school! my daughter says she calls her mom because they have the same "skin color". She loves her, and even tells me about calling her "mom" with pride at home! it seems like the issue is very important to her; and she is only 4!
what concerns me most is the fact that she is so concerned about her skin color and keeps asking about it. I don't know how to explain it to her. I have lectured her about "what makes a person nice and lovely, is not only beauty but such and such" and that "beauty does not have any standards, etc."
I must admit that being raised in another country where people of all races, cultures, and religions live together, marry each other, and never actually think of each other as different "races" (it was new to me as it is here in this country!) I am not prepared for answering such questions... I was hoping that my daughter would not have an accent, and would not be subject to discrimination. now I see that she is already sensing it! more than I do with my heavy accent! I don't know how she has felt it?! but she is very sensitive to her "skin color" and it is the time for me to explain many things to her... and I honestly don't know what to say, and how to say it. I don't want to talk about discrimination to her and already fit it in her brain. I prefer her to see a color blind world. but then I see that I can't prevent it, she is experiencing it somehow already and I must prepare her for new experiences. In short, I am puzzled and really need some help, please...your experience as a child, as a parent of such a child, a book, etc....thanks in advance.


Answers
1 (a mother)

I think it's great that you're willing to tackle this difficult subject with your daughter. You are doing the right thing in responding to her questions. One idea is to pull out the family photo album and say, "in the country I come from _____, people have all different skin colors" and point out different relatives and talk about their skin tones. Then say "here in the US (or Berkeley!) people also have different skin colors" and talk about some people you know. then explain that the people we call "black" or "african american" (she's old enough to get these as synonyms) all came at some time from Africa, just the way you came from the Middle East, and the people we call "white" or European American all came at some time from Europe. Then point out that black people don't have black skin and white people don't have white skin (crayons might help here!) but point out the wide range of skin colors that go with every ethnic group. That way you're moving away from an essentializing (and false) notion of biological race toward an idea of ethnic group belonging, which may help your daughter as she forms her identity. However you choose to approach this conversation, take it in small doses, don't feel like you have to say everything all at once.

Also, I too struggle with how much I want to reveal to my children about discrimination, past and present, but I think it's good to talk about it, bc kids pick up on it (as your daughter seems to have already), and if all we say is "everyone's equal" than there's a disconnect between their perceptions and our message. I think it's much better to say "everyone's equal, BUT some people treat/treated other people unfairly just because they have dark skin/are women/Jewish."
The National Association for the Education of Young Children has a nice brochure on talking to young children about diversity and discrimination, but unfortunately I don't have their number or address. The Parents Leadership Institute has separate workshops on tackling racism for white parents and parents of color. I know nothing about the workshops, but their number is (650) 424-8687. (the workshops are in Berkeley, but this is a Palo Alto number).
Best wishes to you and your daughter!


2 (a mother)

I am the mother of three boys ages 4, 2, and 6 mos. Both my husband and I are of Latin American descent. I was born in Guatemala and raised here in the states. My husband is Mexican-American. We both have dark complexions-- cafe-au-lait like. My children have not yet asked me about their skin color but I expect they will sooner or later. However, I have given this issue some thought and have had long discussions with my husband about it. I'd like to share some of these thoughts if I may. As someone else already said, it's not possible to bring up children to be "color-blind" in this place and time. Our children will be judged in part by the color of their skins. That is just a fact. But it is possible to bring them up to love themselves as they are and to respect and appreciate others regardless of their skin color. Like you, I am very conscious of the way our society tends to ascribe traits, such as beauty, to the lighter shades of skin. I don't know that we can completely undo this.

But I'll share some of my strategies for dealing with this in our family. Once in a while, when it feels appropriate such as at bathtime or get -dressed time in the morning I will remark on how beautiful they are. I do this spontaneously. Occassionally, I will make a point about their skin color saying something like "look at that chocolate colored nose, and those almond eyes -- They are beautiful". This usually will result in Gabriel looking at himself in the mirror and smiling a proud smile. I try to sprinkle comments such as these as situations arise and I also point out other children (especially babies) at the playground or at the store, remarking on how beautiful they are and pointing out specifically their own shade of brown. I do this because I realize that he is surrounded with images and messages that say that the lighter you are the more beautiful you are and I can't shield him from this completely. My hope is that if he accepts that he is dark and beautiful, he will be better able to handle situations that will arise later on.
Other anecdotes you may be interested in hearing: His best friend, who he goes swimming with, has got red hair and he once made a comment about her pink nose (she is part African-American). This started a laughter filled exchange between the two of them. They were stepping on eachother's toes in the locker room saying "Mine are pink, yours are tan" and viceversa. Another time an older preschooler at Gabriel's school approached my baby who was sitting in his car-seat and said with a sense of wonderment "a brown baby, that's because his mommy and daddy are brown". The other tots just stood there quietly gazing at my baby for a while. In short, I believe that it is better to be up front and concrete with children this age group. By this I mean that when they bring it up it is better to address it head-on and use terms and adjectives that are concrete to them and that you feel comfortable using. In my case, we use lot of food terms such as "Chocolate milk", " sweet brown sugar", "honey colored hair"etc. I know I'm not being technically correct but they get the message I want to convey. I don't know if any of this helps, but I hope it does. If you'd like "chat" about other related issues email me at Samaniego@aol.com. Good Luck.


3 (a mother)

color of skin: The color of your daughter's skin is brown, as it is for very every living human on the planet. No one has skin that is literally black or white (let alone red or yellow); we are just all different shades of brown with varying undertones of red or yellow. If you could somehow line up everyone on Earth, ordering them from light to dark shades of brown, you would not be able to distinguish color differences between any two people anywhere on the line.

I don't know if you can get this concept across to your four year old daughter, but you can try.
You might point out that people use those highly inaccurate terms "white" and "black" to really talk about where people's ancestors came from, and that there are better, much more descriptive words to use such as African American or European American, or Arabic American or Indian American, etc.
One nice book which was put together by a kindergarten class in Pennsylvania is "We are all alike; we are all different." Another resource would be to go to the children's section of your local library and ask the librarian for any books that deal with ethnic diversity.
If you can refocus your daughter's attention on the rich ethnic diversity found in this country, different cultures, foods, etc., perhaps you can get her to see that skin color is not important. This whole black/white distinction is anachronistic (must date back to slavery, don't you think?) and the sooner we get away from it the better.


4 (a mother)

In response to a mother's concerns about her 4 year old daughter and her lovely brown skin, we have a similar situation at our house. My husband is Filipino and very brown, I'm caucasian, and both children are of obvious mixed ethnicity but nearly impossible to identify. My son is 8 and my daughter 5, and both of them went through a big skin color awareness when they were about 3 or 4. They were in a home-based day care with African American caregivers and mostly African American kids, and at that time decided that they were "brown" like their friends, and I was "white." Although I explained at the time that this was not exactly correct, they continued to insist it was, and that was fine with me. As they moved into preschool and school, they discovered the many variations of skin color and how many different places and reasons there are for this. They both know that their brown skin comes from their father, their Jewish heritage comes from me, that they are rich in many cultures and that they are unique - as are all the other children and people they meet. You are obviously teaching your daughter all the right things, and she will soon have enough awareness to understand the differences - and the fact that there are people in the world who choose to dislike people for their appearance or the country they are born in or their religion. I don't think it is possible to be color-blind in this country, but it is possible to acknowledge and enjoy the endless variety. The Bay Area, in my experience, is the best place to live and to raise children who are neither black or white, but a beautiful shade of brown. Feel free to e-mail me directly if you want to talk about this more.


5 (a mother)

I am the adoptive mother of two children from Guatemala, ages 7 & 3 who have brown skin (I am white). My older daughter began noticing that we looked different when she was around 3. I have always simply said "most people look like their birth parents -- eyes, hair, skin color, etc. You have medium brown skin because your birth parents' had medium brown skin, and I have lighter skin because my birth parents had lighter skin," which has satisfied her so far. I think you may be reading more into your daughter's question than is really there. Young children are very concrete thinkers, maybe all you need to say is "You inherited your darker skin from Daddy," and point out some other feature she inherited from you. When she asks about skin color and you answer by discussing beauty & "niceness" you are assuming she is making a connection between outward appearance and inner qualities, but she may not be. The fact that she has noticed that people come in different colors doesn't necessarily mean that she has noticed that they are sometimes treated differently or has come to feel that one color is "better" than another.


6 (a mother)

My response to your post is based on my experience as a "bi-racial" person (Puerto Rican & Indonesian, 2nd generation American) whose skin tone is somewhere in between cafe au lait and dark tan. :-)

I'm also the mother of a 9 month-old who is "multi-racial" (Puerto Rican, Indonesian, and African American) and I'm REALLY looking forward to answering the question, "Mom, what color am I?" in about 3-4 years.
Anyway, when I was a kid, the question from other kids, was not "what color are you," but just "what are you?" I remember kids asking me if I was "mixed" (i.e., black and white), "Spanish" or "Indian." I must have been bothered by this enough to ask my mother, "what am I?" Her response was along the lines of "Well, I'm not black, I'm not white, I'm Puerto Rican. So that makes you Puerto Rican (and Indonesian)." So, for the past 30+ years, when asked the what-are you-question, I respond that I'm Puerto Rican and Indonesian.
This is the approach that I think I'm going to use when my daughter asks me the what-color-am-I question. That's, "well, I'm Puerto Rican & Indonesian and you're dad is African American. So that makes you Puerto Rican-Indonesian-African American." It's kind of side-stepping the color question, but in her/my case, I think it's appropriate. Also, I think that when kids ask other kids, what color are you?, they are not necessarily expecting one of two answers (black or white), but it's their way of asking about your ethnicity or "nationality," as kids used to call it in my day.
So, maybe instead of trying to give a very specific answer to your daughter's very specific question, you should engage her in a larger conversation about your ethnicity, country of origin, and culture, and then go from there. Like I said, I'm REALLY looking forward to this question from my daughter some day.
Hope this helps.


7 (a mother)

I have had to address the issue of color with my son who is now 9 years old and African-American. He asked me questions about color when he was about the same age as your daughter.

What I have found is that it doesn't pay to get too abstract or philosophical with children that young because they don't fully understand what you are saying, will often forget it quickly or remember it in some strange way. What I did with my son is I explained things to him gradually as he was able to handle more abstract concepts. So, when he was four, I would simply answer his questions. For example, if he asked me what color he was, I'd say you are brown (because at that time he was not ready for me to explain that people have labeled one another as black, white, yellow, red etc... even though people are not literally those colors.) I also explained that his little brother is lighter than he is because sometimes we look more like mom or dad or even like grandma and grandpa and that he looks more like me and his brother looks more like his father with his grandmother's hair color.
Later, I showed him on a map where our ancestors came from and that people there are darker than people in say Europe and are called "black" or African and "African-American" when born here.
Without going into each and every step I took with explaining things to him, I hope you can see that what I'm saying is you can just simply give her a straightforward answer. If she wants to know why she's darker than you are, just tell her that she got her daddy's skin color, your eyes, grandma's haircolor etc...... and also, the sun makes our skin darker too, and she probably spends more time playing outside in the sun that mom does.
Unfortunately, we live in a country where people are overly preoccupied with skin color so its bound to rub off on our children, so I think the best thing to do is to give answers as simply as possible and in an age appropriate manner. Afterall, prejudice and misconceptions are passed on to children by their parents. As she gets older you can explain to her how unfortunate it is that there are many people in this world who care about skin color and that she can chose to be wiser than that.


8 (a mother)

In response to your concerns about addressing color with your 4-yr old old, now is the time. I recommend contacting Pact, An Adoption Alliance for a list of the books they offer for sell. Although your daughter is not adopted, they can help you. Much of their book list addresses issues specific to adoption, but many others are just great books that are *very* race-aware, due to the inseparability of race from the world of adoption, and Pact's willingness to working with white parents adopting children of color. One of this big issues in an adoption situation such as this is that parents must be prepared for questions such as the ones your daughter is coming home with.

Good luck.


9 (a mother)

How about showing your daughter a globe or world map and explaining that you come from this area called the Middle East? Then point out other areas and say white people generally come from here and black people come from here and asians from here. Then if you think she can get the idea, explain that after a few generations these groups can get mixed together and you end up with all kinds of people.

Good luck, sounds like a tough question.


10 (a mother)

I don't know if I have any good advice for you, but I can give you an example of what happened with my sister (7 years younger than me). We are Filipino, which means that our ancestry is very mixed - indigenous Filipino (a Malay people), Spanish and Chinese that we know of, possibly other influences. I came out looking more Chinese and fair (for a Filipina). My sister on the other hand came out more Filipina and very dark. When my sister was about 4 or 5, her skin started peeling a little - it was the end of the summer and I think she had just gotten too much sun. She was so excited and asked our mother if the new skin coming in would be white. She was (and still is) really sensitive about her appearance and always wants to look like everyone else. (we were living in a predominantly white community, with no other Filipinos). My mother was horrified, and started making more of an effort to try to explain our culture to her, and how we are different from the people we lived near, but that didn't make us any worse (or better) than them. She also started trying to explain why people are different colors - that it is a response to living in different climates, but I know this is hard for a very young child to understand. I'm not sure if it made my sister feel any better, she never really mentioned it again. But she is now a very well adjusted 22 year old who is happy with who she is.

But it is hard in school. You're always going to be singled out because you are different. Even now, I forget about this until I go to the Philippines and realize that I get off the plane and breathe a sigh of relief because suddenly I'm like everyone else (of course I spend a few days there and realize that, thats only on the outside. On the inside I'm really American - I moved here when I was 2).
My parents never really told us to expect to be treated differently, or about discrimination, I think I just sort of figured it out on my own. I'm not sure what the best way to handle your situation is, and I'm sure when my baby is born we are going to have to do similar explaining because my husband is white, so our child is going to be even more confused about what it is. I think the only thing you can do is to try explaining how people are different, but show your child through your actions that people are people, regardless of what they look like. My theory (based on zero experience with children of my own but rather my relationship with my own parents), is that kids really learn more from what their parents do and how they behave than what their parents tell them.
I hope this helps, at least in not feeling alone.
Good luck!


11 (a mother)

I don't have any real answers (although perhaps the Ethnic Studies people on campus, particularly those who work on mixed race issues do) except to say that I personally went/have gone through this also for 36 years. I'm the darkest complected child in a large family. The "color" comes from a Peruvian grandfather. People never know what to make of me. I always get questions such as "And where are you from?" said with a very inquistive look or "Are you Black or white or what?" The latter came from a young black school girl in Memphis where at the time there was not a significant Latino population. And my young son is light skinned with blue eyes. People often mistake me for his nanny. When and where I grew up on the East Coast there weren't many Latinos. I went to predominantly Black high school. I gravitated towards "United Nations" friends - Black, White, Korean, etc. I think I've always felt a little like I fell between the cracks in terms of "color" and culture and the check boxes on ethnicity questionaires. The Bay Area is definitely a diversity haven of sorts, even though people still segregate themselves somewhat. Having darker skin definitely led me to have different experiences from my siblings and to develop somewhat different sensibilities (and to some extent, different politics). I think it may also be one reason why I am in African Studies now.
The moral of all this? I definitely feel my life has been enriched by my skin color. But when I was younger, it marked me as "different" especially when we lived in neighborhoods which weren't very diverse. As I got older and there were others with darker skin, I was still "different" because I was not African American. I think I would have benefitted from some straight forward discussions with my family and my peers. Given that you are in the Bay Area, your daughter will have the opportunity to know people from all sorts of backgrounds. Being able to have a dialogue about it may entail some pro-active efforts to raise the issue. You know, it is ultimately part of the craziness of racism in America that these things play out as they do.
If you do find some good books for kids, I'd be interested. My son is going to face the question in reverse: why is his mother so dark!


12 (a mother)

It is very important to give our daughter(s) a positive image about themselves. First, we need to feel positive about ourselve and our own culture. There are many good books with good images for girls with colors or from different culture. The Children's Dept. at S. F. Public Library and Berkeley Public Library can help you with more books.
A sample list:
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Aunt Harriet's underground railroad in the sky
Bimwili & the Zimwi: a tale from Zanzibar
The girl who loved wild horses (native American girl
I speak English for my mom by Muriel Stanek - Responsible Lupe is translator for her Spanish-speaking mother in this illustrated common-problem story.
Lon po po: A red-riding hood story from China
Nessa's fish by Nancy Luenn (Inuit)
The story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles - Inspiring true story of a 6-year- old African Amerian girl's courageous efforts to integrate an all-white new New Orleans elementary school.
Tar beach by Faith Ringgold - 8-ear-old Cassie imagines flying over her Harlem home and neighborhood.
Abuela's weave - a Guatemalan girl overcomes fears when she helps her grandmother sell a tapestry they have woven together.
To learn good role models from all culture will help us and our children to recognize and respect all culture and colors.
Sorry for many mistakes I typed. "8-year-old Cassie"... Good luck.


13 (a mother)

dentity politics are tricky. and, as you have figured out, "color blind" naivet\151 will not sort it out for you or your daughter.
i am "african american" and husband is a british-born "south asian" and our daughter is 11 mos old. we are muslim. i am an ethnic studies major and my husband was/is a public school teacher, my father-in-law is a psychiatrist. and we very familiar with identity politics, psychology, family, generation gaps, and this state-side lifestyle.
would be very happy to talk with you woman-to-woman, mom-to-mom, "sister-to-sister". ...


14 (a mother)

My daughter, also 4, began asking questions about color last year. I am African American and white (light in complexion), and my husband is brown-skinned, from Jamaica. My daughter's complexion is somewhere between ours. We see both my parents and my husband's mother, and it seems that after these visits she asks the most questions. She can't seem to figure out why my mother is so light. She wonders why everyone on our street is brown. Unfortunately, she has already picked up negative messages about being brown, which we have tried to counter by explaining that it's what inside that counts. On the other hand, I have also tried to make understated references to the beauty of brown people. She has spent some time trying to figure out just who is brown, while I've tried to emphasize that we're all different shades of brown. She's not buying it ("*Grammy's* brown?!"). One time in conversation she grouped herself and her father together because they "match", and me and her brother together (our son takes after my mother). While I have been reluctant to introduce her to American understandings of race, I think her questions persist because she notices how inequality is patterned along racial, that is, "color" lines. She already sees that white standards of beauty are more highly prized, that our neighborhood with all its brown people is also poorer (a point she seems to always mention when she goes to her white friends' houses). What I am doing for my child is what my parents did for me: present positive images of the contributions made by "browner" peoples to American and world history, through trips to the library, friends, etc. I don't think this has to be done in a heavy handed way, but in a relaxed, almost ordinary manner. In my case, they emphasized African American history because it was virtually absent from our school's curriculum, and because they wanted us to relate to our personal history, but they also exposed us to other groups as well.


15 (a mother)

I read your email yesterday and the question has been very present in my mind since then. Being a mother of a 2.5 years old girl make me guess sooner or later I am going to face with questions similar to this myself. So I really want you to know that this is a very sensitive issue for me also. I also want to appreciate you for being sensitive and present with the stages that your child is going through. I really acknowledge you for being so aware and such a good listener for every questions that comes to her mind. However The following questions just comes to my mind when I read your email. I just want to understand if the fact that she has a darker skin from most people around herself is bothering her or she is just aware of it and wants to understand how does it happen that people have different skin colors. I hope you don't mind thinking about these question;
Is it possible that she is just asking this question without having any concept of what it means in this society of being white or black? If so I would just explain to her the reason that she has a darker skin than even her mom. I would probably tell her about the country she was born, her family back home and show her their pictures. I would show her other pictures from different races that have different looks without giving her any concept of beauty. I definitely don't mention the word beauty without explaining to her that beauty does not come just with looks, and even if I find out she is concern about this issue I would then end up showing several pictures of women with darker skin that are know to public as beautiful women. (of course I hope I don't have to do that. And even if I have to, I would wait until I am 100% sure that her question is coming out of this issue.)
What I am saying is that these concepts are only mean certain things to us just because how it was defined for us in our community. However in a child mind it is very possible that she is only expressing what she is seeing, and that is the fact that she has a darker skin than most people around herself. Simply she has asked you why she has a different skin color. you did not mention that she is upset with this fact. Reading your email does not even say that the concept of beauty comes from her mind. my understanding from your email is that you think she keeps asking this question because she is concern that she may not be considered as a beautiful girl. The key is that most of the times adults give meanings to whatever a child is saying from their own point of view which could be very very different from the child. I hope opening these question will help you to understand the main source of your daughter's questions.
Take care,


16 (the frist madar who raised the question)

My daughter knows that she is beautiful. She is a Persian Doll for Holloween, with connected eye-brows, beauty mark near her lips, red blush and lipstick in an Iranian custom. she gets many compliments.

She does not ask questions about skin color anymore.
However, her friends in her summer school, kindergarden, and after school are only black.
I expect her to have friends of all colors which can easily be found in her schools. Has she resolved the skin color issue for herself in a certain way?
this is only a part of the bigger picture that concerns me: how do our children identify themselves? I would really like to know if other parents see that their children have similar behavior patterns, for example, mixing with other minorities (Mexican, Greek, Italian, ...) more than white Americans. I know that as adults we may mix with other minorities because we share similar experiences such as language barrier, lack of experience in the US, etc.
but our children have no language barrier, and are supposedly equal! do they already sense subtle discrimination?
As an old child, I realize that learning and self-esteem is a continual process and cannot be learned or changed over night. so, I'd better start directing my children to the right direction (if I can find it) now.
...and yes, my dear husband thinks that I am too worried, and things will resolve by time... but looking at the racial picture in this society, I am not so sure.


17 (a madar)

I'm envious of you that your community is so diverse. Where we live, on the Peninisula, most of the kids at my son's school are blond, blue-eyed, and very Whitebread, as people say. We could use an infusion of diversity here. The only African-American and Hispanic kids we have are bused in from East Palo Alto, so not only are their skin colors different, but their culture and socio-economic background are at the opposite pole. It's hard on them and hard on the other kids, but mostly (and unfortunately), the groups don't ever really mix.

My son is not sabzeh, but fair-skinned. Still, he has very dark hair, connecting eyebrows, and deep brown eyes. To other Iranians, he looks Iranian, but I don't think the other kids see him as anything but white. I'm not sure if this would be the case in Berkeley or not. We also, have taught him about his Persian heritage and he is very proud. For some reason, the other kids don't seem to identify him in that way. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I'm half-American.
I think there must be an undercurrent of discrimination everywhere in this country. I grew up both here (and in Iran) and I seen how racial attitudes have changed. I'd say that, overall, they have become more healthy. I was just in Europe and I came across a lot more racial discrimination and paranoia than I've ever experienced in the States. For that, I think we can be grateful. But for the future, I don't see racism ever becoming extinct, just more managable.
Happy Halloween -- a day when we can be who we aren't -- or who we really are!
Best,


18 (an Iranian teenager )
Race and ethnicity are two different concepts that need to be explained to your child. Race of course follows into white, African-American, Asian, and Hispanic. Ethnicity is cultural heritage. Your kid is already confronted with issue of racism. It is your job as a parent to explain to her this concept. Race and ethnicity are both socially constructed concepts that have deep historical roots in this country. No matter what you do you can never escape issue of racism in this country. It is constructed in its social structure. Therefore, it is not only accent that sets people apart it is also other components such as class, race and gender. You are better off telling your kid about her heritage and letting her know that she is different than other kids, however not less.


19 (a pedar)

I don not think that what you are saying is the total picture of your daughter's friends. She has all different kind of friend from veriaty of colors, you are getting a little more attention to her black ones. If you go back to her previous school, you would see she has white freinds, too. the only thing that I can think of it is that since balck kids may be more socially active and more friendly as thier parents are, they are getting more attention of other kids who are looking to get someone to play with.


20 (an Iranian-American )

You shouldn't take it too hard, when your child refers to the black teacher as her "mom". Adults tend to over analyze things and be overly preoccupied with things, and to feel insecure at the slightest provocation. Children are really very off-handed and playful, and don't attach the same significance to things that adults do. Your child will know who is their real mom, and who really loves her, regardless of what kind of "mom" game she plays.

I have heard that psychologists claim that a child will have a special affection for the parent of the opposite sex. Therefor, the child may show a preference for people who look like that parent, or who look like they are from that parent's ethnic group. I can say that my idea of a beautiful woman is my mother ( who is white Scandinavian-Irish-French American), and women who look like her. I can also say that my idea of the most physically beautiful people is people who have the same physical features as my mother: northern europeans. This seems to be a widely recognized phenomenon. Everyone makes distinctions based on their own particular idea of what is beautiful; even multiculturalists and egalitarians do.
Sometimes parents tend to become over-concerned and alarmist, and label this or that benign behavior of a young child as evidence of something abnormal or something that needs to be fretted over, or take things personally. The fact that we think, as adults, that it is abnormal to even notice racial differences, and that we have an abhorance for admitting that they exist, while these things seem self evident to a child, should tell us something.
It should tell us that it is we who have the problem, not the child. We are the ones who have an unnatural and conditioned fear, and were taught that it is bad to draw lines between people based on appearance; children do these things without a second thought, and if there is any behavior that is natural, it is the behavior that children display before being conditioned by their parents and society. Remember what Marie Currie said: " Nothing is to be feared, only to be understood".
Trying to deny things which are visually obvious to an observant child will get a parent no where; I remember well enough the attempts of one of my parents to deny something which was very obvious to me as a child. The result was not that I stopped observing things that this particular parent considered inconvenient; the result was that that parent lost credibility in my eyes.
As adults, we have developed adroit methods of lying to others and to ourselves because we are scared of reality, and prefer our illusions. But these aren't available to children, and they aren't burdened with the need to be afraid. The worst thing that any parent can do is to get angry at a child for being naturally curious and observant. Once we no longer have this natural curiousity and observance, its loss is possibly permanent, and life is not as fun.
Multiculturalists and diversity fascists are just as guilty as racists in imagining that drawing lines between races is the same as recognizing differences in human character, value and worth. They are also just as guilty as the racists in using fear as a motive to induce the rest of us to believe what they want us to believe.
While we needn't think that one race is superior to another, it is natural for someone to identify with someone who looks like them, or who looks like one of their parent's. And while we needn't think that one culture is superior to another, people have their preferences, and after they play connoisuer a bit and sample other people's cultures, it is natural and usual for them to return to something that is familiar to them: their own.
For multiculturalists that fault this assertion, they would do well to remember that they are showing themselves not to be too anxious to leave their own familiar cultures too far behind them ( even if that culture is multiculturalism itself).
No one thinks that a child is evil for loving their own mother more than they love their other fellow human beings. I would certainly do things for my mother that I would do for no one else. Nore would anyone be surprised at why a parent loves thier own children and takes pride in them more than other people's children. That is certainly an act of discrimination, but it is entirely natural. Why then would it be unnatural for a human being to show preference for that group of people that their mother or father belong too?
As Jesus said, " The Sabath was made for man, not man for the Sabath".
Of course there is the danger that any such child might end up being plagued with an obsession with labels and have this unnecessary burden for the rest of their life. But this will not happen through the child's own natural curiousity, but through the attitudes of adults, who would attach a particular significance to differences in physical appearance ( be they multiculturalists or racists).
Children from same-race and same-culture marriages may not have to deal with these things to a very large extent; they can treat the question of differences between races and cultures as a simple matter of social skills and manners, while in their own mind never doubting what race or culture they belong to; it is something which does not have such a large impact on their lives as it does for a child of an inter-racial, cross-cultural couple. This is something that is part of the package of multicultural and inter-racial marriages. People who want an inter-racial or cross cultural marriage often do not think ahead, and see the difficulties that may arise. Among other things, they are goaded on by the encouragement of others, and are made to feel like they are doing something noble and graceful by ignoring some of the very same things that a child might see.
As long as there isn't strife in the home between father and mother ( which could happen due to cultural differences), the child should feel a little less torn between their father's people and culture, and their mother's people and culture.
My father is Iranian and my mother is American. From this situation, I can understand why anyone should have an identity crisis, who is the result of an inter-racial and cross cultural marriage. But these things come with the package of such a marriage, and it is well for anyone who wants such a marriage to consider the consequences and difficulties it might have. Regardless of what you like to believe, and regardless of what type of thinking is now being fashionably promoted, such parents must finally come to grips with this situation. Popular culture promises us that there are no real differences between people, and that all people can get along, and that part of the price we pay for these benefits is that we must ignore differences, if we see them. But the people who popularized this viewpoint will not be there to bail you out, should they be proven wrong in the laboratory of an inter-racial or cross-cultural marriage. Their interest is not your or my well-being, but rather it is the promotion of their own particular aggenda and their own gratification. So we needn't pay them any particular attention.
21 (a mother)

My 16 year old told me the other day that when one of her friends saw me for the first time they told her, "I didn' know your Mom was white!" My children run the spectrum, from the most beautiful black baddomi eyed Persian beauties, to green eyes and blondish hair. You should see the faces as people try to figure out how they can place labels. :)


22 (a daughter)

One of the things that I love about Iran is the fact that we have so many shades of color, and no real deep-seated hatred or racism. At worst, we have "lookism" (trying to look European) or predjudice - but no one is hanging anyone - I love explaining that to people. And I love the rainbow in our family - my sister and grandmother have bright red hair, my father has green eyes, my uncle has dark dark brown skin color, and the rest of us are somewhere in the middle.

Now, I have a question - is it just me, or are Iranians unusually obsessed with looks (particularly women's looks) - and do we get more plastic surgery (on our noses) more than any other ethnic group, or what? Every time I hang around groups of Iranians, I feel sick by how shallow our "wonderful culture" is - especially with regards to women. Is it just my imagination?
Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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