Dear Jack: To You, a Person’s Hair or Eye Color is Just as Much (or Little) as a Defining Trait as Their Skin Color

5 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: To You, a Person’s Hair or Eye Color is Just as Much (or Little) as a Defining Trait as Their Skin Color

Dear Jack,

While we spent this past weekend at Nonna and Papa’s in Fort Payne, Alabama, I made a comment about how your baby sister Holly is so pink. Just by being out under the overcast, cloudy sky for a few hours on Saturday, she managed to get a bit sunburned; which made her an even darker shade of pink than she naturally is.

After you heard me say a few times that your sister is the color pink, you thought back to the bedtime song I taught you, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious is His sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Wanting to learn more about how people can be different colors, you asked me, “Daddy, who is white?”

I attempted to explain, holding a white piece of paper up to my tan arm: “Well, my skin color is called white, but as you can see, there’s a lot of difference in my skin color and this piece of paper. It’s more like everybody is a shade of brown.”

Your next question was directed to Papa, as you noticed his skin is even tanner than mine; and definitely darker than yours or your sister’s:

“Papa, are you black?” you asked in complete sincerity and innocent curiosity.

The fact you are nearly 6 years-old and still don’t know the generic colors that society identifies as is because I haven’t made a point to explain it to you. I haven’t seen a reason to.

On your own, you have recognized that certain people have darker skin than you, but it’s never been exclusive to someone who is of any certain race.

For example, one of your teachers is from Pakistan; you know that she has very dark skin, but you don’t know what her race is; nor do you care.

From what I can tell, a person’s hair color or eye color is just as much (or little) as a defining trait as their skin.



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