Monday, June 27, 2011

Is that man from Africa?

I'm always looking for opportunities to take my daughter to African-American events that embrace her culture. Not long ago, the African Children's Choir was in town and I thought that would be great learning experience for her. On the night of the event, I wanted to make sure I picked a seat up front so she could get a good view of the action. The Ugandan children, mostly aged 7-11, came dancing and singing down the aisle wearing their traditional African clothing. My daughter was literally dancing in the aisle! She loved it!

In moments such as these, I like to point out to her how her skin looks like their skin...brown and beautiful. This particular night, I was also telling her how these children are from a continent far, far away called Africa.  She was so engrossed in the music and dancing I really didn't think she heard me. She is only four and doesn't always pay attention to me when I talk.

A few days later, we were at the mall. There was a black man walking toward us and as she points at him she says very loudly, "Is that man from Africa?"

"Shhh and don't point," I say.

"Well he has brown skin."

"You are right sweetie, he does have brown skin, but I don't think he is from Africa. I think he lives in our town. His ancestors are from Africa"

She stopped the questioning and I could tell she was mulling something around in her brain. Perhaps trying to process why some people with brown skin are from Africa and some people with brown skin are from her hometown or quite possibly why her mother would use a big word like "ancestor" with a girl of only four.

A few minutes later, another black man passes...can you guess?

"Is that man from Africa?"

Ugh! At least I know she was listening! :)