Talking About Race With a Biracial 5-Year-Old

“I never want him to feel ‘less than,’ but I also want him to know of his rich history, ” Melanie Coffee writes at the Huffington Post.

… “Mommy, am I one of the brown people who can’t do anything or the white people who get to do everything?”

My heart sank a little. All the talks we’ve had about the importance of content of character, how President Barack Obama had a white parent and a brown parent, the books we’ve read about King, Rosa Parks, Obama and kids of every hue and belief. Did they not stick?

My niece and nephew are also biracial and they’re college students. I admire how their generation doesn’t seem to feel the need to check the white or the brown box. They are who they are and that’s it. I too am trying to keep my kid “box-free” while also instilling a sense of knowing where one came from.

That’s why my response to whether he was brown or white was another question: “What do you think?”

He studied the backside of his hand. “I am both, it’s like a mix.”

“You’re right!” It’s true, he is. His caramel-colored skin and loose and profuse sandy brown curls are a perfect blend of my husband and me.

“What if I was on a bus though, would I have to sit with the white people or the brown people?”

“Uhhh,” I admit, I fumbled for words. He’s five years old. I want to protect him from the ugliness of racism.

But I don’t want to lie to him as there’s no stronger weapon against racism and other ignorance than the truth. But, really, he’s five. It’s not like it’s time to have The Talk, which for generations has been a rite of passage for many brown boys.

Read Melanie Coffee’s entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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