What Do You Mean, “White Skin”?!

A small, simple story to share how much I love my kids, and the gentle genius of childhood too.

When Lola was in kindergarten, she was sharing a moment in her day with us at the dinner table, explaining that Noah did something in class.

Which one is Noah?, Lori asked. Lola described him, Lori shrugged her shoulders and we went on with our day. Days later, Lori told me that Noah was a little black kid in her class. This was an obvious descriptor for us (white, in an overwhelmingly non-black city.) Lola had no concept of that value.

Fast forward a couple of years. The kids were sharing some Arabic phrases with us at the dinner table, picked up from classmates in a multi-lingual school.

Ah, I exulted, how lucky you are to grow up in an environment with so many different people, with different cultural reference points. I grew up in a place where everyone was just like me!

Lola looked nonplussed. Lori explained:

Where Papa is from, everyone was just like him, the same language, the same religion, the same white skin…

And then Lola interjected, looking at her arm

What do mean, “White skin”?!

Without judgment, in pure bamboozlement. Two years later, and still a wonderful ignorance to this differential.

Last week, in relation to the terrible affairs in Paris recently, I was reading some content that when we speak of race, we are wholly mistaken. We are not from different genetic code, we are not different species. Our skin pigmentation is but a tiny marker in our humanity.

How nice to be reminded of this up close and personal. Our native starting point is that we are one, that there is literally nothing to see. In difficult cultural times, let us remind ourselves of that.

←This Much We Know.→

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