White or Brown

I know what you’re thinking:  Another post about Chinese Food Restaurants.  Nope.

Julianna is absolutely in the “questioning everything” phase.


Because she wants to know how everything works and the reasons things happen.


Because she’s generally inquisitive and ultimately relentless.  Most if not all kids go through this phase I suspect.


Before we do anything, or before someone visits us, we like to tell the girls about whatever it is.  This seems to minimize the “stress” on the new person, place, or thing.  Yesterday a friend and former co-worker of mine was coming over to visit.  I was telling Julianna about him when she asked the following question:

Is he white or brown?

Well that’s a new one.  A bunch of things go through my head at that moment including, but not limited to:

  • Should I be embarrassed?
  • What if she makes a comment like that in public?
  • What if she MADE a comment like this in public?
  • Does she say things like that in school?
  • Is it a big deal at all?

And then I decided that its actually more of an issue for me than her.  She was asking in a purely observational way.  She’s just wondering and rightfully doesn’t have any reason to think there would be anything wrong with that question.  Maybe I’m the one being over sensitive.  Maybe.

In her fictional adventures, Yo Gabba Gabba, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sesame Street, etc, she learns that there are all sorts of different looking people.  The differences aren’t explicitly talked about…they just are different.  I think its a lesson these shows try to teach constantly as part of their DNA, not as a specific topic.  Aside from the fact that in real life she isn’t going to see a 7′ tall one-eyed red pickle looking thing on the streets (if so, run), its great.  I think Sesame Street has always done a nice job with these sorts of lessons and all the other shows do it too.

We’ve recently been listening to a lot of music from the Broadway show Wicked.  She wants to know about the characters who are singing and I’ve also shown her pictures of them.  She notices that Elphaba (for those that don’t know/care, Elphaba is the character who turns into The “Wicked” Witch) is green.  She asks why she’s green?  Just wondering.  Just another example of someone who looks different.

So I don’t know if I responded the right way but here’s what I said:  “His skin color is white.  He’s very nice and you’ll like playing with him.  Who do you know who’s skin color is brown?” (I wanted to get a sense of what she was differentiating or how she was making the connection).  She listed a few people and we talked about how much we liked them too.  Then I asked her if she knew anyone who has green skin.  She of course mentioned Elphaba.  We talked about red skin (Muno – Yo Gabba Gabba) and pink polka-dotted skin (Uniqua – Backyardigans).  And that was it…no big deal…then it was onto what we were going to have for breakfast.

One of the most important things for me is to raise kids who are accepting of everyone, no matter anything.  Its something I’m very sensitive about.

I want her to know its ok to observe differences.  She’s different.  I’m different.  We all are.  Fine.

I think its cool that she asked because she was wondering, not because she cared one way or the other.  Because she’s in a stage where she’s really starting to figure out the world around her.  I can’t be afraid of that exploration and I can’t be over sensitive to it or she might start thinking there’s something wrong with differences.

White, Black, Red Sox, Yankees, Gay, Straight, Grouch, Ballerina, Jewish, Muslim, Democrat, Republican.  It shouldn’t matter to us.  It doesn’t matter to her.


Just because.