Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chocolate face

Bean told me today that Dora the Explorer has a chocolate face.  I did a double take, trying  to gauge my reaction carefully.  Yes, Dora has darker skin than Bean, but then again so does the majority of the world.  Bean's skin is so white, it's almost translucent.  If I was to ever dress her as a mime (which I'm sure every mother thinks about doing from time to time, right?), I wouldn't even have to put the traditionally white makeup in her face---she is just that white.   So yes, logically her skin contrasts with that of the deeply tan Dora.  I just didn't expect to have a conversation about race with my 2.5 year old.

And then the wheels start turning.  Did I ever refer to anyone as chocolate?  I don't think so.  That doesn't even sound like something I would ever say.  Is this because I don't buy chocolate ice cream?  Well, I don't really buy vanilla either...I buy Ben and Jerry's Blueberry Greek fro yo or Strawberry Greek fro yo, but I rarely share those with Bean (worst Mom in the world).  I do have a secret stash of fudgesicles, but again Bean doesn't get those.  And it's not like she said "Dora has a fudgesicle face."

I momentarily started to freak out because there is a little Ethiopian boy in her preschool.  Did she call him chocolate face or some other offensive toddler term for "not white?"  Please have this not be the case.  Oh Please.  First the puppet disaster and now this...

Perhaps I'm too sensitive to this.  Logically, I know that Bean is just trying to make sense of her world. She is labeling and naming everything around her so that she can understand them better.  Today, for whatever reason, it struck her that Dora was different color from herself.  She described Dora as chocolate probably because the idea of calling describing someone as an ice-cream flavor struck her hilarious and also with the vague hope that by mentioning ice cream around mama, it might just get some ice cream into her own mouth.  Clever kid.  

I responded calmly by saying that people come in all different colors, just like crayons.  And using all those different colors makes the world a much prettier place.  I'm not sure if she got it.  She is after all only two.  This topic will get more complex as Bean gets older.  For now, I will keep her in a bubble, protected from the harsh realities of inequalities that still rage on today.   She can learn as she gets older, but until then we are all different colored crayons creating something beautiful together.

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