In the may issue of Your Baby mag, there is a great article titled Race Relations, which, as a mother raising two mixed race children, who are distinctly different, I read with great interested. Especially after my earlier post about what society had in store for my mixed race children and the comments that that post received where most readers would choose to believe that our children don’t see race… WRONG, studies show that our children are NOT colorblind.
Here is an extract from the article:
Children are colourblind – a refrain hopeful parents repeat as we watch our rainbow-nation children playing with their rainbow-coloured friends, seemingly free of the nasty apartheid baggage we remember from our childhoods. Many of us have hopes of our children growing up suspended in that “colourblind” stage, finally free of the ugly racial stereotyping, the anger and the guilt that dogs our country’s history. But of course children do notice colour. Who hasn’t been embarrassed by their child exclaiming, a bit too loudly, a bit too publicly, “Mom, that doctor is brown!” or “What? A white beggar?”
The meaning of it all
Children between two and up to the age of around five to seven are in what Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget called the preoperational stage of childhood development. Their thinking has become symbolic (they know pictures represent things) but they are still egocentric and struggle to see things from others’ perspectives, and they lack enough experience to accurately spot trends and patterns and predict events reliably. While they are trying to make sense of the mystifying adult world, for example, they may believe that it is possible to change their gender or race. Your under-seven may tell you all children become black as they age, or that he is going to become white so that he can look like a favourite friend.
The difference is that children below a certain age do not attach any meaning onto skin colour, it remaining, for a short part of their lives, as inconsequential and devoid of moral judgement as height or hair colour. But that age is younger than we imagine.
You can read the full article here: Race Relations
Then last night something interesting happened. At around 6pm, we were all sitting in the lounge, Ava was playing with Hannah and we were enjoying some family time, when Ava turned to me and said: “Hannah is my sister, I love her, but we are different!”
I asked her what she meant, and she pointed to her hand and said: “We’re different!”
I asked her what she meant and she couldn’t really explain it, but she said she would show me, by showing me colors. She went to her playroom, fetched her pencils and pencil case and came back to the lounge. She then pointed at the top of her hand and the black pencil case and said: “We’re different!”
And we realized that as the the article in the mag is indeed true. Children are NOT colorblind, they do see color, at Ava’s age, they don’t assign judgement or prejudice, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t noticed that they are different. Now it’s our job to make sure that they grow up NOT buying into racial stereotypes and prejudices, it’s out job to teach them that yes, while they are different, they are also very much the same. That people’s differences should be celebrated, not judged. That it’s beautiful to be different!
I am fascinated by my children, they are breaking taboo’s and teaching me so much about tolerance, love and acceptance on a daily basis.