he knows

I think all kids reach a point where they categorize people based on certain features. I am told that I ran up to a red-haired man in my grandparents' church when my dad (a redhead) wasn't there. Nate has been calling all black men "Baba" (what he calls Rodgers) for several weeks, especially if they have shaved heads, but he's not really that picky. He also will point to pictures of our friends and call the women Mama and the men Baba.

[from Amazon]
One of Nate's favorite bedtime books is Baby's Goodnight Blessings. It's one of our favorites, too, because it's a good bedtime prayer. The baby thanks God for Mama, Daddy, brother, sister, grandparents, dog, toys, trees, and more. On the Mama and Daddy page, the dad has red hair. Nate called him Gaga (what he calls his grandparents) at first, but after I told him that he was the baby's daddy, Nate now calls him Baba. He now calls the people on the grandparents page Gaga, even though they look nothing like his grandparents (they both have white hair). So I thought that we're making progress that he can understand some gagas don't have red hair and some babas do.

[from Amazon]
Nate always gets a new book at his checkups. One such book is Joshua's Night Whispers. Joshua is black, and his Daddy (the only other character in the book) is lighter, but maybe not white. He's more like Nate's skin color. To me, the text in this book is odd, but Nate loves it, so we read it 4 or 5 times before bed. Joshua gets scared at night, so he goes to get in bed with his daddy. No matter how many times I tell Nate, "This is Joshua, and this is Joshua's baba," he always points to Joshua and says, "Baba," then points to the dad and says, "Mama."

Nate knows that his dad has dark skin and his mom has light skin. He knows that his grandpa has red hair. He also knows that some dads can have red hair and not all grandpas do. He can tell the difference between a man and a woman. But, if a dark skinned and light skinned person are together, he still thinks the dark one is the dad and the light one is the mom, even if none of them are women and one of them is a child.

And people think that not talking to kids about race will keep them from making generalizations...
An interesting paper on this subject (this is a pdf): Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race


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