Saturday, February 12, 2005

Children's Racism Watch

Lately Sonshine has been noticed making remarks to dark-skinned people that they are dirty and need to wash their skin. Needless to say, this is not an idea he's gotten from home, where his father is even darker-skinned than he is, and one of the cleanest people on Earth. I talked to Sonshine about it, and sure enough he told me a girl named Tyanna at his preschool was telling him he was dirty because his skin was darker than hers.

I told Sonshine to ignore her when she says that, because she's wrong and he knows it. And I'm going to bring it to the attention of his preschool teachers, because I'm sure they won't want that sort of attitude perpetuated at their school. I hope they decide to bring this to the attention of Tyanna's parents. It's possible Tyanna came up with the idea of dirty dark skin by herself, but it's more likely she got it from a parent's offhand comment ("My, you're so dirty that you look like a black person!"), a racist relative, or another child.

There's no way to avoid this sort of thing-- if it wasn't skin color being made fun of, it'd be hair color or glasses or clothes, and if it wasn't "dirty" it would be "out of style" or something else. Still, though, we have to nip it in the bud, especially when the thing being made fun of is not something people can change. Better to eliminate these sorts of discriminatory attitudes at age four than let them perpetuate for years and years.

UPDATE: I spoke to the teacher and she was not aware of it, but she is now, and she says she'll speak to Tyanna's parents about it.