The Bespectacled Mother

“Is my foot getting whiter?” #MondayMusings

“Why am I not white?”

This was the question from last week. It was surprising for me, at least, because having lived all alone by ourselves with our own philosophies, Dhruv and I frequently discussed how the colour of the skin doesn’t matter, it is a person’s qualities that matter most. I thought living in a diverse and multi-cultural apartment complex in South India for 3 years was helpful to understand this point and I believed it did.

Then how come the question of not being white reared its head?

This wasn’t a one-off instance. Every day, he spent his time figuring out if his body parts were getting any whiter. The word ‘No’ for an answer did not provide any solace. Hence, it became pertinent for us to address the issue of skin colour once again citing difference in geographical condition from where people come from, the work of sunny latitudes and genetic adaptation over thousands of years. I am sure the concept of genetic adaptation is tough to understand at his age. There will be some revisiting on this in sometime and I shall be happy to do my research.

For all the discussions and explanations, it will be interesting to see how long the question of skin colour is here to stay. Meanwhile, the task we have undertaken for us, for now, (when the school reopens after summer vacation) is to see Flabius, David and Yasin as they are. They are his classmates and they shared his table in year 2. The task is to look for whether they are kind, considerate, helpful, sensitive to others, aggressive, loud, mischievous, insensitive, stay active or keep quiet. With so much to consider about them, where is the mental space to see who is black, brown and white among them?

For this week, we shall be reading Anne Frank, therefore, more thoughtful discussions are likely to follow.

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I have to thank you all for the thoughts you shared with me on my last week’s Monday Musings post. The case of filtered images was debated the most and I was delighted to see healthy disagreements and diversity in viewpoints. We are a wonderful blogging community with each one of us having our own authentic and non-judgmental voice and I cherish to be a part of such a community.

Linking this post to Monday Musings and Microblog Mondays

 

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23 thoughts on ““Is my foot getting whiter?” #MondayMusings

  1. In my growing up years I was bullied in school for my skin colour. As I grew up in Sikkim most of my classmates had pale Mongolian skin while I had brown skin. They even used to call me “kaali” and once even hit me with a thorny stem that left cuts. I just hope D is not facing any such things in school. Keep explaining to him the beauty of dark skin.. he is too young or else I would have suggested some great African authors who wrote brilliantly on the politics of skin colour. Just tell him we are naturally tanned.. something that the Caucasian people envy.

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  2. Oh boy! You do have a lot on your plate right now, Anu! How difficult it must be answering questions that kids ask us, is something I learnt from my nephew. The questions Dhruv asks you and the way you find answers to them–believable answers–is something that will be helpful to many a mother, aunts, included!
    Thanks, Dhruv! May you keep asking questions and may we keep learning how to deal with you little people! 🙂

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  3. Kanna noted his skin color difference when he started his schooling and we too had a small discussion on the matter. He says we ar brown and that’s it. Not much bothered about his color so far I believe. He has friends from all colors, so I tell him not to focus on anyone’s color or talk about it in a bad way. I do believe that children should be able to discuss about their color and ethnic difference in a healthy way without being called a racist. But the fear about discrimination is too much among the grown ups even to address this topic.
    I hope D’s questions are emerging from seeing different color groups at school and not steming from any discrimination he faced. Generally kids are better in this regard but we never know.

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  4. Please check for bullying in school.
    There is no reason a kid will ask if he is turning white/ black / brown unless someone specifically pointed out the difference to him. Ask him why he wants to be white.

    And yes, please raise with the teacher about including diversity in school !

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    • I checked with him after Balaka’s comment and there is no reason for concern. He said everything is fine in school.

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      • Bullying is not physical, but also verbal. Ask him to describe what shade
        Of white he wants and why? And who he wants to look like.

        I was verbally bullied in school and never knew it was bullying till i went to high school and realised what bullying meant!

        Talk to him and try to find out about his day, what his friends eat, with whom he eats lunch, plays after lunch and whom he sits with at school. Small stuff will get
        Him to describe his day( i know Dhruv really expresses well) and particularly ask about non white kids and with whom they ait and eat etc. It may not even be bullying but a form
        Of profiling and maybe he wants to break in to the “ cool” group but feels he can do ao only if he is white?

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      • Thank you for giving so many leads to discuss with him. I will do it as soon as possible.

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  5. Oh my! Sounds like you have your hands full, Anamika. But then again, I suppose questioning something is their way of learning. Mine hasn’t yet started with such curve balls, but I’m sure the day isn’t far.

    Good luck!

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  6. Skin colour and all that. Being a foreigner in a white country is no fun at all . I can understand what D must be dealing with. School children can be particularly unfeeling and insensitive ( they’re too honest perhaps ?) Relocating overseas will give you plenty of grist for the milk Anamika!

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  7. Irin on said:

    Firstly, glad to know that the discrimination factor in school is ruled out. Innocent curiosity is probably what prompted him to ask this question, but to be sure I guess you need to ask him why he is curious to become more whiter. Maybe he thinks the geographical/ climatic conditions will enable him to get whiter and that’s not happening 😁Today’s kids are more sensitive and more expressive so we as parents have much more on our hands to handle. I sincerely feel ethnicity differences / similarities and tolerance towards racism should be introduces to children in schools and as early as possible.
    For the time being just chill and enjoy the vacation.

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  8. Oh maybe ask him if anyone said anything to him or if something happened. That question might have just come on his mind or it might be due to something else. My sister has faced a lot of bullying due to her skin colour and I actually realised that when we used to talk after school and from the things she asked me.

    Hugs to D!

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  9. Maybe someone is troubling him regarding this? Do ask him about it.
    Growing up, I have been taunted by my own cousins for my skin color. It never mattered to me that I was not fair. But they made it seem like I was born with a disability. I didn’t care then, I don’t care now. It is very hard for children to go through things like this. I hope D realizes that this never matters.

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  10. Dhruv is getting intelligence only through such intriguing questions. And what you have explained is quite relative. But check with his school activities and friends too. Happy to read about your vacation plan. Stay cool and happy.

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  11. Oh yes, skin colour. My experience has been that even when it is not voiced, there are subtle things that make you very conscious of being more brown than others. It must be standing out even more in a foreign country. Sometimes other kids may just be curious and may talk about these things. I remember when I was younger I used to hate being asked if I was a South Indian simply because I was darker skinned. Now nothing derogatory there but basically they implied that you are not fair enough to be a North Indian. And I used to wonder why when both my parents were fair skinned I was dark skinned. Of course, I never voiced it to them. But yes, such thoughts bother kids. It takes you time to appreciate and even love what you have but growing up years when everyone is immature can be tough with biases. Keep talking to him and seeing what is going on in his mind.

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  12. You know as much as we try to shield them out of color difference it is bound to creep in. My elder one is a shade darker than my younger one, and at age ten she compares her skin tone with her young sibling. I don’t blame her in entirety. Kids pick up cues from elders. My husband and I seldom differentiate between kids, however, there have been instances where relatives have mentioned the difference in tone of skin.

    The solution? its repetitive, and repetitive discussions in various form and occasion to reiterate that the tone of ones skin is of absolutely no significance and whats important is ones thoughts.
    Enjoy your Anne Frank Read 🙂

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  13. Whoa! Tough one mommy and I agree with the others here, pls check for his school activities to see if he is feeling marginalised or skipped over from being chosen in teams, etc.

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  14. The first thing I wonder is – is he facing any discrimination in school? Or any “jokes” made on skin color in general. That can lead to questions on skin color too. I really hope that isn’t the case, though! xx

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  15. I have nominated you for the Mysterious Blogger Award. 🙂

    https://namiwise.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/mysterious-blogger-award/

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  16. It’s tricky business answering these questions. But you handled it well. I personally haven’t faced this issue, because my son has grown up here, and having a mix of all colors is what he is used to. Also, there are a good amount of Indians here so he is not in the minority.

    That being said, have you considered the possibility that someone is giving him a hard time at school about this, and that’s why he is bringing it up?

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  17. Pingback: Beginning October with gratitude #MondayMusings

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