Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The black egg

I really hope this post does not stir up an unintentional can of worms.... If you choose to comment, which I will enjoy, please do so with thought.

So I have this post I want to write. I was going to include a picture, but in my infinite organizational skills, I have since lost the black egg. So imagine if you will.....

A wooden flat egg shape on the end of a wooden stick so it becomes a "puppet". The wood is blank and meant to be colored and designed upon. My three year old colored it yellow and pink and then recolored it black, his favorite color.

My five year old and three year old built a "theatre" out of Duplo blocks and began an egg and bunny puppet show. It was cute. They were making up voices for the puppets. And I was doing the dishes. Everyone was occupied. Until I almost dropped a dish.

My five year old daughter with her pink and purple colored egg said the words: "Your BLACK egg can't be in the puppet show, it is UGLY!"  I was raw with emotion.

How did my five year old say such an ignorant and yes, stupid,  remark? HOW? She has grown up in a diverse area. She knows all races, all religions, all differences. She says often that she wishes she had brown skin because "it's so pretty".

I grew up in Prince George's County and then outside of Columbia, MD. I understand and have lived in relevant harmony of all races, religions and genders. I have been told that I am ignorant because I grew up in a utopia society. That I didn't know how the real world worked with race. But the thing is, I did understand. I just chose to rise above it. I chose to not care about the color of someone's skin or what holidays they observe. I chose not to make stereotypes.

When I became an educator, I was made aware of discrimination and racial bias, and how prevalent it still is in many ways. But it all doesn't make sense to me. Why and how can a teacher or a person see another person or kid and say "that person is lower in education or status because of their skin color". It doesn't make sense.

Circumstances help to create a person or student, but they are not the only thing that helps create the person. Circumstances change. People change. While it was educational for me as an teacher to become aware of the struggles in the past and the racial bias in the present, I often wonder when, as a nation, are we going to move forward? When will will it make sense to everyone that judging someone by their skin color does not make any sense at all?

Back to the puppet show.... It turned out that when I confronted my daughter about her exclusionary statement, and began the lecture on how the color doesn't matter, it turns out she just thought the egg should have been colored pink or yellow, you know for Easter and spring.  The black color was grim and ugly for an egg. And hence why she looked at me like a crazy person when I put it in context of racial issues.  Nevertheless, it got me thinking. And she now tolerates that her brother's favorite color is black..... And it's ok because it's a boy color.

And here goes the gender stereotype conversation......


  1. I think for most children, thoughts of race are not forefront in their brains. Most children, I think see difference, but usually are unable to assign value to that difference. I think we, as parents, however, know about race, the repercussions of difference, and what it could mean to some, if our child seems to say or think things that society may seem racially insensitive. I think your daughter is like most kids, most girls. I don't think she was assigning a value to the color black universally or as it relates to race or the color of one's skin. I say this while also very familiar with your parenting anxieties over this as a parent . I get that! And have experienced that with my own children! I think what I'm learning to do is embrace that my toddlers still just see colors as colors. There's no value judgement there...yet. I cherish that in them while also bracing myself for the possibility that one day this could change. I hope this helps!

    1. Yes! I was thinking just this while reading the post: "toddlers still just see colors as colors . . . I cherish that in them while also bracing myself for the possibility that one day this could change." Really insightful.

  2. Oh, and I wanted to add that even when it came to my daughter's desires, at three, for princess hair. What I found interesting is that she didn't assign that kind of hair to a particular color of people. In her mind, princess hair was just pretty hair that was straight and amazing. I can't say that I thought this when I was a girl. But then again when I was a girl in the 80s and 90s, I think beauty, the standard of the beauty holders was more defined along racial lines. This is a tangent, so sorry. Just wanted to clarify after re-reading my first comment. :)

  3. I completely agree. I don't think she was assigning a value to the color black either. And I don't want her too. But she will someday and I hope that she does it with intelligence instead of ignorance, but I suppose that is part of my job as a parent. ;)

  4. I think you handled this situation well, Tiffany. And I agree with Jessica, it doesn't sound like she was assigning human value to the color. It was an observation on her opinion. What I love is how you processed this and learned more about the situation from your daughter.

  5. I agree with everybody here that I don't think little kids register colors as differences - yet. The fact that you're aware is sad and good. Sad because seeing discrimination and stereo types based on race, religion, age, etc. happens to all of us and it's not right and it doesn't make sense. But good because you are already teaching your children what's important, just by being you. Does that make sense?

  6. That makes total sense, Kristi! Thank you for your comment!