One of the tricky things in a multi-cultural household is the subtler aspects of discussing issues of race. We have two boys and, despite them obviously taking after their mother in terms of color and hair, we work at balancing the images of race that they see. We hang pictures of our friends on our walls so that they can identify our friends and see that many races are represented. We buy toys with various races represented. We buy books with pictures of different races in them. We’re very intentional about recognizing both heritages and being proud of each. Actually, some friends of ours are adopting trans-racially and one of the things they were told was to “color up their lives” by being intentional in developing friendships across the race line. So that’s been my catch phrase to people: “color up your lives”.

That being said, I never thought about how stupid race sounds to kids.

And I blame Jesus for this topic coming up.

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red, brown, yellow, black and white,*
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

This song inspired the following conversation between me and my three year old, Reese:

Reese: “Daddy, who’s white?”
Me: “Mommy’s white.”
Reese: “What’re you?”
Me: “I’m black.”
Reese: “No you’re not. You’re brown.”
Me: “Uh, you’re right.”
Reese: “Who’s yellow?”
Me: “Well, no one really wants to be called ‘red’ or ‘yellow’. But aunt Jen’s Filipino, so she’s Asian.”
Reese: “She’s brown like you.”
Me: “You know what, you’re missing the point of the song. Go to bed.”
Reese: “What color am I?”
Me: “Ask your mother.”
Reese: “Am I white like mommy?”
Me: “Uh … how about I tell you about sex?”

Needless to say, that’s now his favorite song.

*Is it just me or did this line used to only be “red and yellow, black and white”? It always did remind me of the future presented in Star Trek: something bad must happen to brown people because you don’t see them in the future.