3 months & 4 weeks into Daddyhood

I want to share a story one of my colleagues has just told me…

At the school of her granddaughter, in a class of eight-year-olds, they were all told to look at a book in which was an illustrated story of the Nativity and decide who, in the class, they would have playing the particular roles. One little girl, when looking at a picture of the Three Wise Men, pointed to a boy and said he should play one of them. The teacher asked why. She said it was because he had the same “chocolate coloured” skin. Subsequently the girl’s gran (who she was staying with at the time) was called into the school and informed that the girl had made a “racist comment.”

What, I ask you, is the world coming to?!

Racism is, obviously, an important issue, which should be confronted if and when it arises – at school, at home or whatever… but an eight-year-old girl describing someone as having “chocolate coloured” skin… is not racist! What would have been acceptable? Describing the boy as having “brown” skin? “Mud-coloured” skin? “Dirty-looking” skin? As an eight-year-old girl, is it not likely that chocolate, to her, has positive connotations? Aside from which, even if she had described the boy’s skin colour in purely neutral terms (although non-specific-deity knows what term would be accepted as being “neutral”!), is not racism about judgement, preconceptions, applying irrational (generally negative) connotations based on such an arbitrary factor as skin colour? The little eight-year-old girl was describing an aspect of the boy’s physical appearance; she wasn’t saying, “He has chocolate coloured skin, therefore he is a bad person”! How different would it have been if she had noticed someone’s blond hair or green eyes or freckles?

Like I said…

What is the world coming to?!

We should allow our children to recognise differences (and we are all different – there’s no getting away from this!), but then encourage/teach them to see these differences as good things – as part of the beautiful, diverse nature of humanity.

We shouldn’t be accusing eight-year-old girls who make perfectly innocent comments of being racist!

…which seems obvious to me, but there ya go.