Monday, September 10, 2012

Brown and Pink - It's Not Just Black and White Anymore

I remember the conversation as though it were only yesterday instead of nearly 3 years ago. I had just picked up my insanely cute 2 year old from daycare, I was contemplating dinner, it was kind of drizzly and gross out.

I hear the tiny voice and turn down the radio.


"Yeah, babe," I answer, as I adjust the rearview mirror to look at her.

"You pink." I smile, since she has started learning the names for colors, she has been trying to give everything a color. I guess pink is for girls.



"I pink."

I am thinking of little girls and all things pink and cute. And then, out of nowhere, "Daddy brown."



Since then, she has differentiated between the Grandmas - Pink and Brown. There have been two types of people in this world, the pink and the brown, up until this year. Even this year, the only people that she added were Chinese and I am not even sure where she came up with her uninformed decisions of Asian people.

She had decided to be pink, like me, for the last few years until this summer at camp when she came home and informed me that she was brown like the Hubs now, and although I missed the innocence of my little baby, I accepted it and knew that she was figuring this out on her own. Besides, being in a camp all summer that kept her outside 90% of the time, I had to agree, the girl was very, very brown.

On Wednesday of last week, she called the Hubs and I to order. "I have decided that I am Indian."


"I am not really brown, I am not really pink. I am Indian." And she said it with so much certainty, so much confidence, so much self-awareness for a 4 year old that I was almost willing to believe her. Almost.

This weekend, while snuggling on the couch (which has become less and less frequent and more and more uncomfortable as she continues to grow) we were looking at each others hands. She noticed that she has my fingers, and that her nails were getting longer.

And then, she broke my heart.

"Momma," she said. "You are not pink, you are white and I am black. I am a little black girl." It was so matter of fact, so hard, so cold.

It was then that I realized that the world - the cruel, cruel world that I have tried to protect her from, that I have tried to shield her from - had finally burst the bubble where all people are just brown and pink, had stolen away the ability of a 4 year old to name her own race, had instead boxed her into what they wanted her to be instead of allowing her to define it.

It hurt.

I held her tight, I kissed her forehead. I let her know that no matter who she decides that she is - God, her daddy, and I, would still love her - even if she just so happened to want to be an Eskimo or a swamp person. She shook her head at me, looked me in the eye, "Tonight, I really just want to be a Walrus."

And I smiled.

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