Friday, March 21, 2014

Skin Colour

Yesterday in the van:

Matthew (sigh):  "I really wish that I had brown skin, Mom.  Like Seth and Lizzie."

Me:  "Oh yeah?  Well, brown skin is beautiful.  What makes you wish that, Matt?"

Matthew:  "It's just so warm and shiny and it just looks good.  And it would make us all more the same."

Lizzie:  "That's true, Matthew.  Sometimes I wish I had peach skin like you and Mommy and Daddy."

Matthew (somewhat incredulous):  "Why?"

Lizzie:  "Just to be the same, I guess.  I love brown skin, but we know more peachy people than brown people and sometimes I want to be the same as them, too."

What a lot of content in a few short sentences.  I'm glad that Lizzie loves her brown skin (that hasn't always been the case), and I could hear in both of them the sense of attachment that was being expressed because, of course, sameness is one way that we attach to those that we are closest to.

We ended up talking about the ways that we are similar to each other and the ways we are different; the kids talked about what they liked and didn't like about brown skin and what they liked and didn't like about peach skin; we talked about the colours of the world and the colours of people in our community and the colours of people in our circle of friends; we talked about being a unique family because we represent a world of colour and how good it is that each of us has at least one other person in the family who is the same colour; and we talked about what it is like to be the colour less represented in a community.

Always interesting conversations going on in this household!


  1. That makes me think of the conversation about skin color that went on in my backseat a while back. Where they were discussing their skin colors - yellow (my son's word) & brown (my daughter's word) and then both of them told me how they love being part Mennonite, part Chinese, part African (yes, BOTH of them!!) and how sorry they felt for me. Why? 'Because you're white, Mom - you don't have our skin color.' Loved how they identified with each other. Right down to comparing tan lines in the summer. Yes, I've got a couple of very interesting kids.

    1. That's awesome, C! And I'm glad to know these conversations happen in other people's vans, too!


  2. Lovely story and conversation! Of course now I must recommend picture books. YOu probably know them, but if not:
    The Colors of Us:
    "Let's talk about race" by Julius Lester


  3. hi ruth,
    something weird happened when i was submitting my comment about book recommendations. did you get it? If not, here they are again. LOVELY conversation!
    "The colors of us" by Karen Katz
    Let's talk about race - by Julius Lester


    1. Hey Jackie -
      Thanks for chiming in...both times! Yes, I got both comments, but I'm sorry something weird happened when you tried the first time.

      I'm very familiar with "The Colours of Us" but the second book is new to me and I'll be sure to check it out...our local library may have it.

      Anyway, thanks! I love these kinds of conversations and find myself better and better at engaging in them, the more of them we have!