By Adryan Moorefield
The world is a beautiful place, filled with life and culture, art and science…everything working together to create a beautiful picture. It seems that lately, people have started to forget just how beautiful the world really is. In the commotion of our daily lives, it is becoming easier to focus on those things that make us different instead of the things that connect us. In a way, our differences are what connects us. Everyone has something different about them and because of this no one really seems different. It’s important to remember that we are all human beings deserving of respect and appreciation, even if we don’t all look the same.
Colorism isn’t a topic that is always discussed but it is important, especially for the young minds of today. Colorism, by definition, is the discrimination of individuals based on the social meanings attached to skin color. This is not to be confused with racism, which is the discrimination of individuals of a different race based on the belief that another race is superior. In fact, it is the belief that one aesthetic is better than the other that gave rise to colorism within communities of the same race. You may be thinking that children don’t normally exhibit discriminatory behavior, however, the subtleties that accompany topics such as skin color are often difficult for children to understand. We must remember that in the early stages of our children’s development, they act as sponges. So much so that they become walking mimics, sharing everything that they have seen or heard around them in their daily lives. Because of this, we must help them understand topics such as these. To illustrate this idea, I would like to share a story about an experience I recently had.
About a week ago, my partner, Joe, and his toddler cousin were playing a game. They were chatting via FaceTime and having a great time. She was pretending to have magical powers by making him disappear and then reappear by saying the magic words that she made up. She didn’t know that this was just a large-scale peak-a-boo, but it was so entertaining. After a while, she grew bored and wanted to try something more advanced…a transformation spell. She said the magic words and before she knew it, my partner, Joe, had become someone else, me! I expected her to be so excited by completing this advanced level magic trick but instead she looked sad and confused. She said, “You’re not my cousin, you’re black!” You see, this toddler is African American, Joe is African American, and I am African American. The problem is, she noticed that I was a different shade of brown than her cousin. I couldn’t be the same person! The enjoyment and imagination had gone away because of one small difference, my skin color. She just didn’t understand that we were the “same” person changed by magic. We immediately changed back into the version of Joe that she knew! I felt bad that I had ruined her fun, but it made me think.
Members of the same race having different shades of skin color is a concept that can be lost easily in children. This subtle difference can open doors to discrimination within racial groups and whole communities. It’s important to emphasize that skin color should not dictate how people are treated. There are many examples present in life to help illustrate this point. In a box of crayons, every individual color contributes to the overall big picture. Show your child the different shades of green or blue. Make a game out of how many different hues you can find. This will foster the understanding that different shades of color exist in the world, not just in our skin. Separately, each color is beautiful but together, each color can be used to create a masterpiece, existing in harmony. Each unique, each beautiful, each with respect.
Adryan Moorefield is a Dallas native that loves to share what he's learned in life. He is a performing artist, teacher, computer nerd, foodie, animal lover, all around fun-loving guy! When not writing, Adryan likes to spend his free time sleeping, eating, practicing archery, learning Italian, and spending time with his partner and dog. Adryan loves his family and friends and believes that we all have the capacity to love and shape the world for the better.
For more ways to bring social justice to the little ones in your life, sign up for the LJL newsletter here.