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Posts Tagged ‘race’

shiny happy people

A couple of months ago, Ava was telling me about her friend at church. Generally these conversations consist of what Ava and her friend did together and what type of shoes this particular friend was wearing. This time her description ended with “and she’s black.”

“She has black shoes?”

“No. She’s black.”

This was the first time that I had ever heard Ava make any reference to someone’s skin color and to my knowledge the first time that the subject of race had ever come up in front of her.

So many of the children in our church, our community, and Ava’s preschool are of different ethnicities than Ava. She was born in a hospital that speaks sixty-some different languages on any given day and has been surrounded by myriad of colors ever since.

My early childhood was pale in comparison. Any subtlety of color stood out on a palette of white. So I have often wondered if she would ever notice the variations of skin tones. And if so, how would she articulate them.

Now here it was. Ava wasn’t talking about a new friend, but a girl that she known her whole life. A girl she was dedicated with and now accompanies her to preschool. I have heard many descriptions about this friend, but this was first time that she had called her black.

I wasn’t sure if someone had told her this or if she came up with “black” on her own, so I asked her, “Well, Ava, what are you?”

She tilted her head and laughed at my absurdity.

“Mama, I’m shiny.”

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