Pickaninny Papers Search
Powered by Squarespace
Parenting Archive

Sexy—Not the Be-All and End-All

By Lucinda Holt

Just last week, while driving home from school, my six-year-old daughter said to me, “Maya* got her hair straightened.” “You mean she got her hair blown out?” I asked. I needed a bit of clarification. I didn’t imagine that Maya had gotten a relaxer at the age of five. Read more...

Karma Is Not Always a Bitch, Sometimes, It's Your Child

By Lydia Holt

It was cold and raining―not a pouring rain but a drizzly semi-frozen rain. It was the kind of early spring treat of icy, swirling water droplets that renders umbrellas useless. And there I stood with the plastic-covered stroller, waiting. My five-year-old stood several feet from me and his stroller-cocooned little brother. 


« Yikes! It’s the First Day of School! | Main | Sexy—Not the Be-All and End-All »

Everybody Is Brown

By Lydia Holt

One lazy morning, while my husband, two sons, and I were piled into the parental bed for a family snuggle, our five-year-old laid some knowledge on us. We’ve never talked about race with him. I’m black and his father is white. I wondered if he would ever ask us about the differences in skin colors he sees all around him, but he never has. It’s clear that he has been thinking about it—mulling it over—until he came to the most obvious conclusion.
Photo by Snorri Sturluson
“Mommy, you are dark brown. I am light brown. N. J. is light brown. Daddy is lighter brown.”

“Umm, yes,” I said.

“Everybody is brown,” he asserted.

I agreed, “Everybody is brown.”

On a genetic level, skin color is like eye and hair color. It’s all melanin. In biology class, we learn that these differences are superficial. But for years before we reach that class, we’re indoctrinated to believe that these superficial differences mean we’re intrinsically different from one another. We categorize skin tone by colors, like black and white, and different ethnicities like South Asian and Latino, and use terms like, African-American. (I have never been a fan of the term “African-American.” Not only is it a mouthful, but it’s stifling. Not all black people are American. Everybody knows what you’re talking about when you say black. And by the by, if we take it to the nth degree, every single human being living in these United States of America IS African-American.)

All human beings are descended from Africans. Every single one of us is a different shade of brown, and we all need to stop actin’ up! We have enslaved each other based on race. We have slaughtered each other based on perceived racial and ethnic differences. We have barred people from entering this country based on race. And we’re all painfully aware of how the skin color of our president has led to all manner of outrageous behavior. Imagine how much better human existence could be if we simply stopped subjugating each other, thinking that one group of people is less-than based on race or sexual identity or any other arbitrary trait. We have bigger fish to fry people! The world is running out of fuel as it speeds toward hell in a garbage-filled, rapidly over-heating handbasket—and we’re still quibbling over skin color?! Honestly?! Come on!

I was impressed by the simplicity and accuracy of my son’s observation. When it comes down to it, we’re all shades of brown. Everybody is brown.


Reader Comments (3)

I love the picture. Akil would have you say, "Yeah, we're a team!"

April 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNichole

Nice pic and good read.

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarlin

I really love the image of all you in bed snuggling and having family time. So beautiful.

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTara

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>