I have been watching the BBC series on mixed race Britannia. One of the ladies featured was born to a Jamaican mum and white European Englishman. She spoke about how she was adopted due to her mums mental health and that she was placed in a white family in a white area. Growing up she had almost no non-white interaction. On her first few visits to see her birth mum she was scared of her because of her dark brown skin. I do not care what anyone says, she was obviously told or observed and overheard certain things that would lead to such a reaction. It did not help that she was not around both races that made her. She did however speak of being called names and her adoptive mother telling her to respond to the ignorant folk that she did not have to spend thousands on a holiday to get a tan. However she had no diverse culture as what is normally said to be celebrated by mixed race people. The man she met introduced her to west indian food and bit more culture.
Now I mention this because we are always told that kids see no colour. Well someone told me that about that animal that is supposed to be mans best friend. Anyway I was sat at home with my boys when I over heard a conversation taking place. My youngest who is currently 3yrs (and three quarters) attends playgroup and my oldest is 6yrs old. They are doing their usual banter and than suddenly I hear son 2 say to his brother “you’re black hahaha” and pointing his finger at him as he spoke. Son1 was quick to reply and said “No! I am not black, I am brown!” My ears my eyes did a double take. To make sure I was not hearing things I enquired what was said and the exact same thing was repeated.
Son2 goes to a playgroup the children are various backgrounds though predominantly white. All I can take from this is that some kid who is already being programmed by his/her parents has told my baby he is black. At home we just say Jamaican and British etc. I told Son1 yes you are right you are brown. It would be wrong for me to tell him that this crayon is brown which is darker than you and for me to tell him oh but your skin colour is black. I hate to think what sort of conversations take place in some people’s homes. Now though Son2 calls himself brown and they both recognise the various shading our family has. Maybe this new generation will move people towards nation and culture rather than skin colour of which the current ones do not actually fit.
I have had many debates about the use of Black and African etc. Some African Americans from Bill Cosby to the common man do not appreciate their African genetics and just want to be called American and happily accept Black over African. I myself I am fine to a limited degree with Black in a political sense when not expanded to be all encapsulating to other non european races. However when it comes to describing me and who I am. I am an African-Caribbean by way of Jamaica that just happens to be British. Mouthful? No, because I do no often have these conversations. White folk or rather Europeans are like well your English as you are born here but culturally I am a West Indian Brit and as a people is recognised in this way politically too.
All in all no one can tell me that kids do not see colour. My children have been seeing colours from the moment their eyes focused and only as they have come into contact with other children whose parents are a bit loose with the tongue began to pick up skin colour. Son1 never had such an experience when went to nursery. I still feel like complaining but I am leaving it and correcting what they hear as and when it comes along. They believe me, after all, over everyone else (including Daddy…….).
Sidenote: The issue for me is not that my child has been called “black” but the way in which it was said. The children are aged between 2-4yrs old. Yes as my hubby says children name call all the time but this at this age is of an adult nature and cannot be accepted with no form of concern.