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#1 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 01:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello! I've been a member of MDC for a few months, but never post, just kind of lurk. I have a local AP board that I frequent, though, and I do participate in that. I am a white mom, my husband is black, and we have 3 children- Erma 4 1/2, Elora 2, and Elmotie 13mo.
Here's the problem-
Erma has decided that she wants to be white. She talks about it a lot. When she draws herself or something, she will say "See, I'm white in my picture!"
It makes me so sad that she wants to be something other than what she is! She started this a few months ago. We think someone (while we were out) said something, and she heard them. We've talked about how everyone is made differently, but you are exactly what you're supposed to be. We've read books about liking yourself.
Yet, she still persists with this. I think it's because we live in a predominantly white community, go to a predominantly white church, etc.
I just don't know what else to do.
Any ideas? It breaks my heart every time that she tells me she wants to be white like me. I just can't figure it out. So, I'm coming here to you ladies to see what great ideas you have for me.
TIA!
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#2 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 02:21 AM
 
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I will gave the name for a perfect book, a picture book, tomorrow. I am too tired to make my way out of bed and dig it out, but it is a really sweet story...

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#3 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 02:31 AM
 
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That is so funny you posted this b/c I just submitted a similar topic about books for this issue and asked when do kids notice race! So, obviously I have no advice but am curious to hear what others say as well.
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#4 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 12:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have a few books- The Colors of Us, I Like Myself, and the Shades of Black. We have a few more too, but I can't remember the names of them.
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#5 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 01:47 PM
 
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This is a good thread, I need ideas too. My oldest child told me he hopes the new baby will be white He is 5 now but said it a few months ago when he was still 4.

Mom of 3 sons and one daughter
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#6 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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Well I don't know if this helps (I'm lurking because I come from a multicultural family but my current family is not)....but I don't think it's TOO unusual at that age. I would look at it as a developmental thing.

Often, many boys that age also say they want to be girls so they can be like mamma. I just think that kids who are 4-5 are really trying on different identities and as they realize that they are separate from mamma, they want to be like her. By the time they are 8 or so, they will want to be like daddy and won't want to be anything like you LOL

So I just see the race thing as an extension of that. Just think about the intent behind the statement "I want to be white like mamma." I would just take it as "I want to be like mamma but I'm different (in all kinds of ways)." I would maybe just explore your child's "whiteness" with them - because no matter what they look like on the outside, that whiteness will always be a part of them. Maybe look at family photos of both sides, talk about things other than skin color that are important ways you are alike "well you have darker skin than mommy but your mouth is just like mine!" or "you and I laugh alike" or whatever....

Is that helpful? I wouldn't stress the "no you're not white" thing because she may *feel* white inside right now. And that's okay. It will change over time. Just help her feel positive about it if that's what she's exploring right now. Once she's comfortable with the ways she's LIKE you, then she can be free to explore ways she's NOT like you.

Just rambling but that's how I think about it.
peace,
robyn
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#7 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 02:36 PM
 
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We have been fortunate to have not had to deal with these issues yet, but I am sure they will surface in time. Sounds like you are doing some great things already. Do you think she would be willing to tell you where this is coming from? Not that I think you should press too hard, but if it did happen to be a specific comment or situation, might help in addressing it, KWIM?

I know how difficult it can be, especially when living in and interacting in a mostly white community. I am black (dh is white) and grew up in a mostly white community. Elementary school was predominately white, but middle/high were mixed. However, I was in a lot of advanced classes, which again, where predominately white. As a result, I have often felt like I can relate better to white people. Are there ways in which you can expose her more situations that are more culturally diverse?

I wish I had more suggestions, but I definitely think keeping an open dialogue is critical. Will your dh get involved and share his insight as well?
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#8 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH thinks that we should go around his dad's side of the family more. I don't disagree, but we just don't get that way very often. Also, I don't really have a lot in common with a lot of his cousins, and I feel like I kind of stick out like a sore thumb. I wish his mom's side of the family was closer (they all live about 2 hours away), because all of the cousins on that side are in biracial relationships so all of their kids look like Erma.
I have tried to ask her why she wants to be white, or things like that. A few months ago, it was because "people will like me better if I'm white". That was right after someone said something to her. We talked about that, and she seems to have moved on past that. However, now she just talks about being white. It really doesn't help that all of the kids in our coop (we homeschool) are white, most of the kids in her sunday school class are white, all the girls in her dance class are white, etc. I just think maybe she's trying to relate to someone, and she thinks if she's white it would be easier? I don't know.
I just don't want her to have these issues. DH had a lot of trouble when he was growing up because of race. He went to a very prestigious white private school, and most of his friends growing up were white. All of his cousins called him 'sellout' and 'uncle tom' because they said that he didn't 'act black enough' What the? He also says that he has a hard time deciding where he 'fits in' because of all this. The white community that he was around didn't fully embrace him because he was black. However, the black community didn't embrace him either because he didn't act black.
I just don't want my kids feeling like they don't fit in anywhere. Know what I mean? I think my kids are the most beautiful miracles, and I wish they would see themselves like that. My husband and I have talked about how biracial children are often superior because they were able to pull the best from both gene pools. However, you can't really explain that to a 4 yr old

So, I guess I will try to just keep the lines of communication open. We are also going to try to set up a playdate or sleepover with some of her cousins that are black (at our house), so she can get some different exposure. I will also keep in mind that a lot of could just be the fact that she wants to identify with me, and that is how she does it.
Sigh. Why does this have to be so hard?
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#9 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 06:03 PM
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In some ways I don't feel qualified to give advice in this forum so I'll just speak from my own personal experience. Hopefully it will be taken for that, just one person's story.

I found the best way to ensure that dd would have the best chance of being comfortable with her dualism is to live diversity. By that I mean we bought a house in a diverse area, she goes to a school that is diverse, we have friends that are from around the world and tried to find toys that reflected the greater world out there. And by diverse, I don't mean just one race or ethnicity. I mean many kinds.

Dh and I are both white. I won't even pretend to understand what it is like to be a poc. So while she may be getting a diverse upbringing outside of home, it will never replace what it would have been like to be raises by a black parent.

Maybe it comes down to using whatever you can. In my case, we are able to use the city we live in, our friends and her schools (elementary and karate) to surround her with people that reinforced positive racial identity.

Could be you have to have those cousins over more often and trek over the other side of his family (assuming they are not toxic...).
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#10 of 10 Old 02-22-2008, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthesmilingone View Post
Maybe it comes down to using whatever you can. In my case, we are able to use the city we live in, our friends and her schools (elementary and karate) to surround her with people that reinforced positive racial identity.

Could be you have to have those cousins over more often and trek over the other side of his family (assuming they are not toxic...).

Well, see, his family is VERY mainstream- no breastfeeding, cosleeping, spanking, yelling, CIO, etc. (These are all his cousins with their kids). Their kids are all really rough and kind of out of control, and it rubs off on my kids. So, we don't really go there that often. It makes me angry the way they talk to their kids, and they believe that they can discipline whoever's around- including my kids So, trekking over to his side isn't a very good option most of the time. We do try to make it over for big occasions and special holidays or get-togethers.
And, where we live is not very diverse. You can either live in the ghetto or the 'burbs. You can either go to a predominantly white school or predominantly black school (that aren't accredited). You can go to a black church, or mainly white church. So.... it kind of sucks in that aspect.
I think, though, that we are going to plan a sleepover with some of the other little girl cousins at our house. That way, I get to decide how to parent, and the moms won't be here yelling at their kids.
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