“Mom, I have dark skin and you have light skin,” my 3-year-old daughter said recently. I asked her where did she learn that? She replied shyly: “My teacher.”
As a parent who wants to mediate Trust and bravery in childrenI was both shocked and fearful that I didn’t know the context of the conversation, how it was conveyed, or how my daughter received and interpreted this message. And that’s what scared me the most.
Also, I was already concerned about the diversity and inclusion efforts in the school as there was no mention of the Black History Month celebrations. But Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Dr. Seuss weeks were received with great enthusiasm and solemnity.
I thought about mentioning the lack of Black History Month activity to the school administrator, but I thought the kids might be too young to address the issue of race, which would inevitably lead to a celebration of Black History.
I was very surprised what my daughter said about the color of her skin from her teacher.
As a Jamaican immigrant, it is sometimes difficult to process the cultural and social nuances in a new country. As immigrants, we either fully adapt to the new cultural norms or we hold on to our own cultural experiences and use those experiences to inform about the new situations we encounter.
So I couldn’t understand why the subject of skin tone would be up for discussion in a classroom with 3 year olds.
I thought back to my childhood and couldn’t remember the conversation about light and dark skin that was ever held in an early childhood setting.
But when Newbie In the USA I am fully aware of the existing problems of racism and colorism.
The right time to discuss race and skin color
Children are very aware of differences in skin tone. Babies As early as three months of age, people are viewed differently depending on how much they resemble their primary caregiver.
So children are never too young to learn about diversity and inclusion, but educators need to be careful about how they shape conversations about diversity and inclusion.
Dark skin versus light skin
It is important to discuss what makes us different and unique, but it shouldn’t be about highlighting dark skin over light skin.
Inadvertently, the teacher touched on topics related to the black community, such as: B. Colorism without knowing it. And without the proper knowledge and awareness of these issues, it may be sending the wrong message to young children.
When curious children ask questions or make statements about differences in skin color, educators can use this as an opportunity to have meaningful dialogue. The conversation can be redesigned to allow an early introduction to biology.
You can talk about the fact that the color of our skin is determined by our biological makeup and the amount of melanin present. You can reinforce the fact that there are many different shades and skin tones, and not just light or dark, and that all skin is beautiful.
If the focus is only on dark and light skin, the fact that there are myriad shades and skin tones is ignored and a message is sent to children to tell them that they should be defined by the color of their skin.
Include parents in these discussions
Educators should also involve parents in these types of conversations. Let parents know that this topic may be discussed, how they would like to approach it, and give parents an opportunity to share feedback or concerns.
This can also provide an opportunity for parents to start their own conversations with their young children about these issues. In this way, parents and educators work together to tackle these difficult conversations.
Shape the conversation
Image: author and her daughter
From the conversation with my daughter, her teacher told her that she has dark skin and other children have light skin.
She and the other children in her class are already learning to differentiate themselves by skin color when they have so much more than just the color of their skin.
We all have different racial and cultural backgrounds that we should adopt. But we shouldn’t teach our children to identify themselves by skin color.
Ultimately, I had to show my daughter that we all have beautiful skin.
While it is important to highlight the things that make us different, careful attention must be paid to how we highlight those differences.
Martin Luther King Jr. said it best in his “I have a dream” speech.
“I dream that one day my four young children will live in a nation where they are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their characters.”
And that’s the dream I have for my daughter.
Tiffany Trotter is the author of Brave little ones first, the remarkable novelty from women from all over the world and the founder of BraveSelfStarter, a community dedicated to helping newbies in the United States navigate Career and Personal finance.