Sunday, January 4, 2009

Do You Think I Overreacted?

I may have overreacted. Mateo is 2.5 now and as I've said, he's starting to say more words and even some phrases. He's also more aware of himself and other people. One of those things I wasn't quiet prepared for.

We are very culture conscious people. And we would have been no matter what race our children were. But, since Mateo is a different race then us, we are even more sensitive to it. So, we filled our house with books and toys and characters of all colors, with special attention to Hispanic and African American culture. We even had a black Santa figurine out for Christmas. I didn't expect Mateo to notice anything to do with race yet, he just barely realized that a mirror is his own reflection. I knew that one day, I would stutter through a conversation about how his skin looks different from his parent's and what that means and why. But I thought I had another year, at least. But, like always, Mateo is full of surprises.

He was playing with some little plastic people, in which we have an array of ethnicities, but the one he had was a dark black color. Mateo stopped and looked at it closely and said, "Mama, face, face", and pointed to the little person's face, then his face. So, of course, I panicked and started psychoanalyzing what that could possibly mean and what we could possibly be doing wrong that would make him point out that particular little person's face, instead of the Asian or one of the white ones. Immediately my thoughts began racing.

Does he think there's something wrong with the black face?

Does he notice that face doesn't match mine?

Does Mateo think he's white?

Are we not exposing him enough to darker skin people?

Is he afraid of it?

Have we already engrained in him a preference for light skinned people?

Have we completely messed up this parenting thing already?

Have we ruined his chances of becoming a balanced individual who has a clear sense of his identity but who also doesn't allow labels to define him and has the ability to break free of the boxes society will create for him?

Oh my God! What have we done?

Then I threw out all of the books with white characters and replaced them with books with minority characters. Do you think I overreacted?


los cazadores said...

Hello J-Momma! Thanks for your comment...I think I will enjoy your humor. Oh and re this post - I'm sure I would have responded similarly. :)


Rachel said...

I think you may have panicked a little :) I think you are doing the right thing by exposing him to all different races and ethnicities. But sooner or later he will notice that you look different from him (if he hasn't already). That is natural. Then you can explain to him that everyone is different but that doesn't mean that one is better than the other. I would say to try not to make a big deal out of it because you don't want him to.

JonesEthiopia said...

I think it is important to include SOME white... after all, you have everything else, right?? It would be different if you only had like one doll, book, toy, etc. that was a different ethnicity or something. However, you ARE white, so he needs to know that white is normal, too. Am I even making sense?

janiece said...

I agree with the previous writer--all races are good exposure. Rauan and Chewie have noticed their skin is different from our lily white skin. We just tell them everyone is made differently. And they are exposed to many different cultures and ethnicities. My thought is we're all human beings--different color skin just like we have different colored hair (or hair that "helped" like mine cover the grays!) :)