Miss E is now in her second year of preschool. On her first day, I was the teacher's helper. On three occasions, I overheard a race-related conversation involving four year olds.
Let me begin by saying that I'm so tired of hearing white adults say that race doesn't matter, that we shouldn't put emphasis on race, that we shouldn't talk about race. CLUELESS. It's easy to say race doesn't matter when you are the dominant race---when you live in a happy White bubble. I sure enjoyed the bubble before I became a mother to two brown babies.
When I express my concerns or ask questions about race (mostly diversity), adults always lower their voice a bit and say, with confidence, that kids don't notice or care about race.
They may not care much about race, at the preschool age, but they DO notice color.
Example 1: I supervise the little girls going to the bathroom. A little white girl looks at Miss E, then at me, then back and forth again, before asking me, "Are you her Mommy?" I say yes. Little girl wants to ask more, changes her mind, dries her hands, and leaves the bathroom. I thought, for a second, should I state that moms and babies don't have to "match"?
Example 2: I'm sitting on the rug next to my daughter while the teacher reads a story. Next to Miss E is a little white girl, followed by a little black girl. The white girl next to my daughter asks me if the two brown girls are sisters. I say, "No, but they are the same color."
Example 3: I'm walking my daughter out of the school for the day. I overhear one mom tell another, "My son came up to me and said there is a black girl in his class. We are working with him on this." (Meaning, I suppose, that he doesn't need to state differences, race, or something along those lines). Mom doesn't realize that I'm the mom of one of the black kids in the class. I wanted to tell her, "It's OK to talk about race. It's ok that your child notices color. Don't shy away from talking about it!"
Three examples in a three hour period.
Yup, kids notice color.
Yes, you should be willing to talk about race with your children.
You should encourage honesty.
You should embrace diversity.
You should not project racial insecurities onto your children.
BURST the bubble!