Why Is Racial Acceptance So Difficult?
Years ago we had foster children in our family. Toby came to us directly from the hospital at five weeks, weighing little over five pounds. He was a beautiful baby who was the color of a Kraft caramel with lots of fluffy black curls. At that time we had two little girls and our son Timmy who was three at the time, and Jeffrey who was two. We had another baby due in a few weeks. They all adored Toby.
One time when Toby was propped up in his little jump seat and Timmy was crawling around making him laugh, I looked up to see what the giggling was about. Tim was licking Toby’s arm, then licking his own, sending Toby into hysterical laughter.
“Hey, Timmy, that’s yukky,” I said. “Can’t you do something else?”
“I’m checking flavors,” he answered.
“You’re doing what? Oh. I see. And what have you decided?”
“Him’s the same flavor as me.”
“Are you surprised?”
“Uh huh. I thought him tastes like a Easter Bunny.” I realized he was thinking chocolate.
“Let me see,” I said, and I took a lick on both little arms. “Hmm. I think you both taste like Ivory Soap. Imagine that.”
Yes, imagine that. It doesn’t take a scientific formula to learn that flavor is only skin deep. It only takes a three year-old’s enlightenment.
Another time when Toby was a toddler he was running on the driveway with Jimmy, who was also a toddler. Toby fell. Timmy felt the worst because he’d been chasing them. Toby snagged a great raspberry on his arm just below his elbow. It was a raw skid mark with the skin peeled off and blood seeping from the under layer. All the kids, Sally 6, Debbie 5, Timmy 4, Jeff 3, and Jimmy and Toby 2, gathered around. I had to move their heads back to see to cleanse the wound. Jimmy held Toby’s hand. Jeff soothed his fluffy head of hair. No one was saying anything except, “Ssh, it’s okay. Mommy’s going to fix it. Don’t cry,” but they were all looking. They were studying in real time, drawing their own scientific conclusions. Under that thin layer of caramel-colored skin, the flesh, the blood, the body’s machinery, were all raw and red, exactly like their own. The color really was only skin deep. They weren’t saying anything, but they figured it out. It didn’t take years of study or parental lectures.