Mom, will I turn brown now?

Asheley Woodruff
Burtonsville, MD

My family recently moved from Idaho to Maryland. For the first time, my children were immersed in a racially diverse population. I realized, quickly, that my children did not understand that the United States is not a white country with a few Black, Hispanic, Asian people living in it. Furthermore, we live in an area where being white puts us in the minority category. The change from majority to minority, I think, is felt the most by my children who now ask questions I had never anticipated in a million years. Questions like “why is her skin so dark?”, “Is Maryland full of brown people?”, and “Mom, will I turn brown now?” The questions are awkward for me because they are usually blurted out in public and I find myself afraid of what other people might be thinking. However, I also understand that it’s not the questions I need to worry about, but my answers. How I respond will frame my children’s understanding of diversity for years to come. My hope is that, while we are living here, my children will stop noticing the color differences and somehow understand that America is a complex country of many people. Then maybe they will return to loudly asking me other awkward questions like “why doesn’t that man pull up his pants?”


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