Diversity in human appearance has been one of the most intriguing things that we have all come across. In my house I hate and do not use the term race with my children, because it is so obscured, and demeaning. Instead, I try as best as I can to always speak about people as individuals, rather than their group or nationality…it’s hard work.
Amira has very slanted eyes, Iman looks just like my aunt (but still resembles me) and Rainbow looks more like hubby.
Often random people come up to us and ask, “are those your children?” I say,”yes”, and hope that they will leave it at that, BUT 90 % of the time, they don’t.
The next question is, “are they all yours?” I answer a polite, “yes”, and try to walk away. Then a few have gone even further than that. They usually say, in a very ignorant tone, “…it’s just that they don’t look anything like you…”
Rainbow is not yet at an age where he understands, but I understand, and I know that he has become the TBK (token-brown kid) in our neighborhood playgroup, and I am very uncomfortable with it. Heck, I think I am more embarrassed for all the moms than uncomfortable.
So how do I know that my kid is the TBK? Hmm, where to start.
It could be that when we walks in the room EVERYONE stops to stare. It could be that EVERYONE can’t stop oohing and ahhing over his big brown eyes. Maybe it’s the fact that they can’t help but comment on his smooth brown skin, or those “heavenly” curls on his head. Yeah, I know, my kid is “different”, but is he really?
Now before I go any farther, I need to add that I do not live in a small town. I live in a pretty multicultural city with a lot of “minorities”, and if that doesn’t sell, did I mention that the mayor is a brown guy from Pakistan, who just so happens to be Muslim?
These are some of the things that I wish that I could tell other parents & strangers NOT TO DO:
- Ask where Rainbow got his “colour” from
- Tell me that he has “good/bad” hair
- Tell me that he is fairer/darker than they thought he would be
- Tell me to keep the (much darker than expected child) out of the sun
- Tell me that he was much fairer at birth, and ask “what happened?”
- Use terms like mocha, cappuccino, butterscotch, honey-brown to describe the “colour” of my children”
Essentially, I don’t want MY kid to grow up always being the “different” one. Sure, I want him to stand out. I want him to be a good, respectable human being who just so happens to be brown.
Do you find that people treat your children differently?
Photo credit to Viktor Hertz. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.