Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Give Me Some Skin


Trula - 34
Cleveland, OH
3 children - 2 boys (8), (11), 1 girl (17)


There is great power and affirmation in raising black children in a racist culture who are conscious and proud of who they are; who have no desire to be white or look white or 'act' white, any of that. And by acting white I don't mean what you sound like or what kind of music you listen to or whatever. It's the conscious imitation of what some people think white folks are like...it's hard to put my finger on but I know it when I see it.

When I was a child I didn't want to be white, but I had a difficult time being the only black child in my school class or at camp. I felt singled out a lot of the time and I got easily upset and flustered at questions about my skin color, hair
texture, slavery, etc.

My kids don't have that and it knocks me out. They don't have the apprehension around white people that I had at similar ages. They have a confidence in themselves that took me decades to master. Little things...like one time Scott had this white friend over and they were coloring. The boy asked Scott to pass him the 'skin color' crayon. So Scott passed him a brown crayon, he didn't even blink. The kid was like, no I meant my skin color. Scott then says, "you should have said so, because when you say skin color I
automatically think of brown. I'm brown and most people in the world are brown." The kid was like, "I didn't know that!" Then they started talking about their Yugioh cards.

I didn't say anything...I was just knocked out by how Scott responded to that. When I was a kid I hated it, absolutely hated it when white kids started that 'skin color' crayon nonsense. Me at that age? I would have just passed the peach crayon and felt upset in silence, because I would have assumed that's what they meant...even though my own skin is brown.

Scott's response tells me that he is viewing the world from his perspective as a black person, not the skewed, reflected perspective of white people. It didn't even occur to him to care or wonder if the white boy would get upset if he passed him the brown crayon. I think being freed from caring what white people think is an important step in achieving black consciousness. For black children who never have this 'caring what white folks think' mentality, there is no telling what they can/will do as adults.

18 Comments:

Anonymous jasai said...

I love this! I love everything that this implies. I love the gift of pride that you have instilled in your son. I love the truth that his knowledge base is informed by who HE is in the world and not who other people imagine him to be or want him to be. I love the basic education that happened between two children (I can be honest about my point of view: and you can learn something today that you never knew) which allows just a little more room to house a growing friendship. I love this! And I love you mama for doing your mama thing and sharing it with all of us.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous pear said...

you are so cool! you are supermama! i am actually working on my two sons continuing their education abroad, there are just too many things going on in this present culture that I am not comfortable with.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous angel said...

"I think being freed from caring what white people think is an important step in achieving black consciousness."

This is the truth! And I would add: cultural, social, and political consciousness. Because this white/black obsession is definately an American construct. I'm not saying that racism isn't alive and well in other countries but when you begin to travel outside of the US you realize how much unnecessary emotional baggage we Black Americans carry around....from worrying about how we wear our hair, to how we speak, and how we "conduct" ourselves.....when all we really need to do is just BE.

Pear: I'm with you. My husband and I are working our plan too. For once in my life I want to experience living (not just visiting) in a place where race is not central to every single issue, every single day. And I want that for my children too.
I now understand why Jimmy (Baldwin) and the thinkers of his time, had to get out of this country to get the work done that they were called here to do.

peace.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous angel said...

...and i should add that like jimmy, i'm not talking about moving forever. i don't feel like "problem solved" just because i move out of the country. my ideal is to have a home "here" and "there".

6:48 AM  
Blogger Trula said...

Thank ya'll for the kinds words!

:)

7:33 AM  
Blogger nubian said...

man. i love that little kid already!

8:50 AM  
Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

lol. i agree w/ Nubian.

your son sounds so well-informed & cool!

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Ekere said...

This is wonderful. How did you do it, Sis!!
I'm from the States, my husband is from Belgium and we are in Europe with our little girl. This is far from a multi cultural paradise. They are really battling with issues of immigration and nationalism here. Racist crimes are on the rise in quite a few countries. We are working on going to NY now (I'm from there) but we are really wondering where we can go that brown folk love themselves, love each other and as a result, glow. Does a place exist where everyone has love for each other? Or is it soley up to us to instill this love of self in our babies, environment be damned?

what do y'all think?

one love,
Ekere

1:21 AM  
Blogger soledadsista3 said...

I am so proud of your son's ability to express what he's witness as a life-lesson. It is often a thin line we tred to teach children that this society may determine what we are solely by those things we are not, as opposed to the things that will always be. Once an individual can consciously acknowledge what they are without stating all of the things they are not, they've come to a wonderful place of self-understanding...we are not brown people simply because God didn't make us white, but because WE ARE BROWN...
It is a great gift for your children, if you can grow their understanding of self outside of America's social rules, because the world is so much bigger than this tiny country...
Ekere, I say environment be DAMNED... I believe that if my husband and I teach our son to love people, he will be able to go into the world and hold strong to those ideas. I also believe it is our responsibility to make those lessons relative to his environment...sometimes, we have to prepare our children to be the bearers of change, not just its inheritors....

9:01 PM  
Blogger Trula said...

Oh, thank you all so much. I appreciate it!

@Ekere, I don't know of anywhere that this isn't an issue. While I agree with those that are considering having their children educated/raised abroad, I have friends and family members who live outside the states and they have many of the same concerns we do about raising children with postive self-esteem...even in African countries. White supremacy is everywhere and many countries, although they are not dealing with the after-effects of slavery they are dealing with the after effects of colonialism. Many, many of the same issues come up. So I think that no matter where we live we have to make an effort to instill self-love in our children.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

Once African Americans specifically (minorities...or not...generally) adopt this ideaology our exsistence in this world will be recreated, reshaped---our purpose will be clear and our greatness rediscovered. The Kings and Queens within...a beautiful vision!

5:56 PM  
Blogger ~Mark said...

That childlike honesty and non-hostile openness is what really makes the inter-ethnic healing begin!

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