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Are children colorblind?

Kids_and_race My mom loves to reminisce about my childhood – what mom doesn’t? In one of her favorite stories we are sitting around the dinner table and I ask her and my dad with the curious bluntness of a 3 year old “Mommy. Daddy. Are we Chinese?”

For those of you who don’t know what I look like, the picture to the left is me around the time of the “Chinese” question. I couldn’t be more vanilla!!

While my family looks at this childhood quip as hysterical, it also raises the questions – Are children born colorblind? Do they have innate racial biases?

Being a 4th Generation Orange County Gal from the suburbs, my upbringing wasn’t very “colorful.” I was part of the majority, so I can see why I had no clue what being Chinese meant. I’m sure the circumstances would be different for an actual Chinese child in the OC. (But I’m not really sure… thoughts?)

So when does the “I’m different looking than you” thing start? When do the negative stereotypes cement themselves in our kiddos?

In college I taught a Sunday school class of 4-year-olds. I was reading a story to 2 little girls, one African American, the other Caucasian. I remember clearly as the Caucasian girl touched the darker skinned arm and asked, “Why is your skin so brown?” She didn’t have an answer and I’m afraid that my answer of “God makes everyone different” wasn’t cutting it! Her subsequent “whys?” were proof! I remember being shocked that they noticed at 4-years-old.

Last week, my 3-year-old son Eli and I were watching Little Einsteins – you know the show with the perfectly racially rounded cast of politically correct cartoon characters? Our conversation went something like this:

Eli – Hey mommy, do you know which one has the hair high on top of his head?
Me – Which one?
Eli – Leo! Do you know which one has a microphone?
Me – Um… who?
Eli – Annie, Leo’s little sister!
(The remaining two characters are Quincy and June, the African American and Asian cartoons. My mind is racing about how I’m going to explain different races to my 3-year-old. I didn’t read the book for this yet!! I’m not ready… do I say Black or African American?… I don’t even know what nationality June is! Ahhh!)
Eli – Mommy, do you know which one has a hat on his head? And which one likes to dance?
Me – Who?
Eli – Quincy & June!

So I guess I dodged that bullet. My kiddos don’t notice… yet. But when they do I want to be ready!

An original Orange County Moms Blog post.

Ex-fitness fanatic/aerobics instructor, Kara-Noel is the creator of an awesome hat line for infants and toddlers called Eli's Lids. You can find her blogging about creating a whimsy home, motherhood and being the owner of an up-and-coming business over at Eli's Lids the Blog. Visit her latest endeavor MOMday Morning. Prizes are involved... it won't disappoint!!


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