When my daughter was in preschool, she was under the impression that we- we being her immediately family consisting or my mother, me & my daughter – were white. Granted we are very fair-skinned people. My mother has been mistaken for a white woman by people viewing her in person – I have a few photographs where I’m winter pale and have had people ask if I’m mixed or white. My daughter has our fair skin and she attended a predominantly white preschool.
I’m honestly not sure how the discussion came up, but it became obvious to me that my daughter thought we were white people. She was 4 at the time. And I told her no, we were black people. She looked at me and she asked me distinctly – “So I’m not white?”
I told her, “No, we’re black people.” She thought for a second and then she immediately grouped her & myself into that “we” – because we are slightly darker than grandma. And she says, “But grandma is white, right?”
And I told her, “No, grandma is not white. She’s black too.”
I remember explaining to her that being “black” had less to do with skin color than with being family with or descended from black people.
Thinking back, I think another student told her that she was black and she wanted to know if it was true. She seemed to accept that explanation and, it’s only now that I wonder if she ever wanted to be white or was surprised that she was not. But I do remember her distinct surprise on finding out that we were black. At the time, she didn’t seem disappointed or worried, she just wanted to know.
Thanks to Deborah from Ohio for submitting this story