Don’t teach kids labels too early.

Cammi C.,

Don’t teach kids labels too early. The time will come because they will inevitably hear labels at school, but while they are under four, don’t do it unless they bring it up. Only give brief explanations. Kids do not categorize based on race unless we teach them to. I almost started teaching mine labels just with good intent so she would know what to say if asked about her parents, but thankfully I read the book “I’m Chocolate; You’re Vanilla” just in time. I can’t believe it wasn’t required reading for me as a teacher, let alone a parent of any kind of child. Labels make “us versus them” a thing; kids wouldn’t make that a thing if we left them to their own devices and they didn’t overhear things or observe them from other kids who are only doing them (grouping themselves by race or saying things) because they observed others doing so and so on. For the love; who is actually “black”, and who is actually “white”? I am the exact same skin color as many people that are called “black”, and I am just a “white” girl that tans easily. And, Disney, thanks for finally making Tiana and everything, but it would have really helped some kiddos out if you could have shown her with natural hair and, oh, not gone immediately to Elsa and Ana, the absolute whitest girls ever who you knew the girls would be obsessed with and singing songs from. Oh, and fellow white people, shut up when a white girl wants to be Moana for Halloween. You really want to tell white girls they can’t idolize or be like cool brown girls? You’re not doing any of us a favor when you do that. Latinos and African Americans: stop it with the colorism. Stop obsessing over and praising the children in your family that is born with light skin and eyes. US Census, government paperwork, and doctor forms: get it right! “Select one” is not a valid instruction when someone is to check boxes about their race, and “Hispanic/Latino” is not an okay thing to put a “/“ between. There are Latinos that are not Hispanic: Brazilians, Haitians, Jamaicans… Anyways, since there are these labels we have created, at least give people the opportunity to be accurate on documents. Oh, and don’t be afraid to inquire about my child’s heritage. White people don’t hesitate to talk about being a mix of Irish, Polish, etc., so why should I hesitate to tell you my daughter is part Haitian? Why should I be less than thrilled to explain to Mexicans that she speaks Spanish because her Gringa mom has spoken it to her; not because she is brown? Mexicans around here: it’d be nice if you spoke to me in Spanish too and not just my little child; she only speaks it because of me, anyways…


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