The post about race {according to Mac}



When you look at this picture you probably see 2 kids sitting with a lady wearing a big hat.  You are right.  This is a picture of Mackenzie and Caitlin taking a picture with Mother Goose at story time last Tuesday.  You can tell that Mother Goose has had loads of experience with kids in how she handles story time at our local used bookstore.  Case in point my kid last week.  It was our first time at Mother Goose story time, and Mother Goose was eager to meet my little darlings.  And it was magical and mystical until Mother Goose asked Mackenzie what her baby's name was.

"black baby", was her reply.

Cue the snickers and giggles from a few parents, wide eyes from others, and my checks a flame.

Of course Mother Goose is no novice at this gig and happily replied, "what a pretty baby".  Thank you Mother Goose.  But it's times like these that I get a little nervous about talking about such situations with my girls.  For now, they know nothing of race and race relations.  Leave it to Mackenzie to inspire a post while Paula Deen is under fire for the use of the "n" word.  What is the proper dialogue to have with a three year old who dearly loves her "black baby"?

Let's back up for a minute.  Last November my mom brought over an American Girl catalog.  Of course Caitlin already knew what she wanted and at the time Mac showed little interest.  Sometime around Thanksgiving, Mac discovered the Bitty Babies in the back of the catalog.  Immediately she started saying "I want that one!", while pointing to the black Bitty Baby.  We (my family) giggled a little and said "ok", thinking she was just being her crazy self.  Then as my mom decided to buy one as a Christmas gift we sat with her and asked her which baby she would like Santa to bring.  Every time it was the black one.  To the point that she would argue with you if you tried to get her to order the white one or the tan one.  So, I asked her why she wanted the black one, and she said "because I love it".  Well, what do you say to that?

It was and is, love at first sight.  Black Baby goes everywhere with us.  Target, Walmart, the grocery store, the doctors office, and yes Story Time.  We get plenty of stares, mostly smiles.  But sometimes I wonder if people think of us.  Do they think we are trying to make a statement?  We're not, not consciously.  It's just a girl and her doll. Showing and somehow proving that we are born prejudice free.  
That's kind of awesome I think. 


Of course with a better, more consistent parenting style I could have pushed for a better, more PC name.  Lately I've been calling her Vanessa Huxtable, only to be corrected very loudly by Mac.  Why is it that when your child yells "BLACK BABY", at the top of her lungs in Target the world seems to be listening?  It's become a comedy of errors with friends and strangers on just how to handle this situation.  Funny at times, and embarrassing at times.  Yet at the end of the day, she loves this doll, it's as simple as that.

As I get older I realize that I don't want to be so offensive.  In my former life the more it offended the better I loved it.  Maybe it's the compassion of being a mom, maybe its maturity, but I don't want to teach offensive attitudes about things like race, prejudice, or difference.  To look at our family tree you will find faces of all colors.  On both sides.  You don't grow up with a Mexican dad and a White mom, and not understand some of the sensitivities that come with that territory.  My parents were married in 1974, at the time my grandfather refused to accept my dad and their marriage.  I was born in 1978, and by that time all was forgotten.  Now I'm in a position to teach what I have learned, which I'm trying to do, as delicately as possible with a hot mess of a three year old.  I'm also not sure how to do it since "delicately" is not something I do well.

Back to Paula Deen: she's under fire for using the "n" word as some point in her life.  Which may or may not shock you.  Let's be real here for a minute, at sometime in your life you may have said something offensive.  You may have also listened to it in a song, sang it yourself, read it, or thought it.  In the end, let's try to be kind to each other and possibly be inspired by a little girl and the love for her doll, that looks nothing like her but inspires love all the same.

8 comments:

  1. I think it's sweet she has her little Black Baby and loves it so much! Who cares what it looks like!

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  2. Love this post! Children don't know hate. I think this is so beautiful!

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  3. Great post!! I love how kids are non racist from the start! My boys know nothing of color besides someone is a different color and they love everyone and it's beautiful to watch. I think adults can learn a lot from kids, especially in that area. I may have married a white boy but, growing up I dated both Mexican boys and black boys and I saw first hand how people are because we would get looks when we were on dates & it drove me crazy. I will never understand racism and why people don't like someone because of their color. Also, I don't think Paula deen should have been fired!

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    1. My youngest sister dated a black boy when she was a teenager. They once got pulled over, and the cop kept implying that she was there against her will. When she made it clear that she was NOT being held captive, the cop insisted on searching the car and asking if they had any drugs on them. She was mortified... like, really, this kind of crap still happens?

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  4. She is too cute! Love this story. Maybe someday she will decide to change the baby's name. ;)

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  5. Maybe don't make it about the race issue, so much as "silly girl, black baby isn't a NAME. You have to give her a real name now!".

    It's nice that you have enough awareness that someone could take black baby the wrong way, but the fact is, calling someone black isn't an insult. I think you have to keep that in mind, that "black" as a descriptor isn't insulting, and she certainly doesn't mean it that way. She's three. My Caitlyn is 3 and she has two stuffed dogs. Big puppy and little puppy. They are just descriptors. She's not insulting the bigger one or the smaller one, it's just the simplistic way she differentiates.

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  6. We got our son a baby in preparation for a sibling years ago and he named it "baby Daddy" because he and my husband we attached at the hip at the time. But, let me tell you there is nothing funnier than a little boy running errands with me asking if his "baby Daddy" would like Starbucks, lunch etc.

    I can also relate because our family is mixed as well. My hubs is half black and half white and I am white. Our kids look more like me than they do him, and you would be amazed at the comments we get.

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  7. I love all of this! Black baby... LOL! Hooray for Mother Goose! So I was looking through baby name lists for my little guy, with a student (who incidentally happened to be black), and in the B names, we found both "black" and "baby" at which point I declared that my baby would be called "Black Baby Tenney." And as you know, my kids are like the whitest children in existence. So if it makes you feel better, those are apparently actual names. ;)

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