Chocolate Pudding? Depends.

Yesterday as I picked Jacob up from school and we were rushing out the door two younger boys said, “Hi, Chocolate”  then a minute later added “pudding”.  I wasn’t able to process what they’d said quickly enough to have a talk with them, but I also know that would have made Jacob very uncomfortable.

I asked him if he knew the boys and he basically said they were just annoying 2nd graders.  We talked about it a bit and I told Jacob and his sister that, just like their older siblings, if they were friends or family and they called each other chocolate and vanilla or Asian and Mexican, as his siblings do, that’d be different.  If they aren’t really friends and these boys just decided that was okay to call him – it’s not.

I’ve sent an e-mail to inform the teachers and let them know I realize these boys likely meant nothing racist by it and wasn’t sure there was much they could do about it, but that I wanted them aware in case they overheard it sometime.  I also let them know that, different place, different person and the response might be much less pleasant than Jacob’s rushed “hi” back to them.

The acceptance of a nickname indicating anything to do with race has everything to do with the relationship between those people.  Those of us with young men of color whose core group of friends are a racial blend know that using names that might be slurs in another setting – just to be clear, not the “N” word, that’s never ok with me – is part of how they show their affection for each other.  Much like young men may slug each other or wrestle each other – it’s just what they do.

They tease each other with racial stereotypes – because they know it’s safe between them to do that and they’ve all had those stereotypes used against them.  Many black men use the “N” word basically in place of the word “brother”.  As an older white woman who grew up during the civil rights era – it just makes me really uncomfortable.

Just another reminder to talk to your kids about race.  It’s so often a subject white people don’t discuss, but when you don’t your kids assume there’s something bad or wrong about people whose race differs from their own.  This article Even Babies Discriminate shows that  kids do think about it and if we’re not talking about it, then they think it must be bad. Another great resource I just read is Five Myths of Talking About Race With Your Child.

One of These Things is Just Like the other

Several times this week I’ve been looking at the Disney/princes/Barbie aisles in Target looking for something for Callie’s Easter basket and today looking with her for a new doll. It’s been very disappointing to see the lack in diversity – not surprising – but disappointing.

In the Easter basket aisle I saw this.  My first thought was, “One of these things is not likeImage

the other” – oh wait, no – all the same.  Since our country is now comprised of about 36%  people of color then Disney should have had at least one of these three some shade of brown and no, brown hair and green eyes don’t count.

Today Callie wanted to replace the only boy doll she had but lost, so back to Target we went.  The only boy “Barbie” dolls they had were blue eyed blondes – seriously.  She found a wedding set with Barbie, Ken, a ringbearer and a flower girl – every last one blue-eyed blondes.  That was out both because of the complete lack of diversity along with the price tag, not to mention the wedding obsession she does not need fanned.

She finally settled on a set of princesses.  More than I wanted to spend, but it’s a rare occasion that she gets to pick out a toy.  This was also a disconcerting purchase.Image

Seven princesses – seven – and only Tiana is “of color”.  Where are Mulan or Pocahantas?  I can not be the only mother, no matter what my ethnicity, who wants their child to have toys that reflect the beauty of the entire world we live in, not just a portion of it.  It’d be like playing with one color of legos – how boring would that be.

Come on Disney – get with it.  It’s hard enough that I have a daughter who in interested in something like princesses, don’t make it even harder for me by only promoting the submissive pure white ones.