Monday, November 12, 2007

Between Innocence and P.C.

Last night Rob told me about two separate instances with the girls, where they referenced a 'person of color', an African-American, a black person.

E2, watching a competition of some sort announced that she was rooting for the guy with the brown skin.

E1, after watching an Alltel Wireless commercial, asked why the dark skinned guy was mad at the guy who broke his bobblehead.

Rob wondered if their comments were appropriate, and if maybe we should give them other words to use to avoid offending others. To me, they were simply describing a physical characteristic in the same way they would a hair or eye color; skin color is a quick and obvious distinction.

But is that a naieve way of thinking? Should we give them other vocabulary to use? And what is acceptible and non-offensive?

If paint color can have yummy and delicious descriptions, why can't there be unique descriptors for skin color?

See the woman with the caramel-colored skin?

Of course, that would open things up for people to refer to me as the pasty white one...

We're living in a mostly-white area, but we often leave the sticks to travel to the big city. I'd love to hear how you've handled, or would handle this, in your neck of the woods.


Rebecca said...

My friend Kris, who lives over in your neck of the woods and has the answer to every parenting question ever, had this happen with her girls about a year ago. They believe that everyone has brown skin, just in varying shades: dark brown, brown, light brown. She has gone on letting them use those words, because such innocence can only be had once.

Ali said...

In our family we say "dark-skinned" or "brown-skinned" if we don't know, or African-American if we do. The boys have some brown-skinned friends, one is half east-Indian, half Caucasian, one is half South American, half Caucasian. Their best friend, who has the same skin color as those two, is half African American, a quarter Caucasian and a quarter Greek American. In his case, "African American" might be PC but isn't accurate. Of course, in those cases, mostly we refer to them by name without taking the color of their skin or their ethnic heritage into account, LOL!