Race matters

by Rod Smith

Thulani is 11 now...

Thulani is 11 now...

Race comes up often in our family now, but it was kindergarten that officially informed Thulani that he is black. Prior to this enlightenment he’d casually told me, on several occasions, that I was silver and he was gold. I liked that.

After a few more sensitivity lessons at school, and yet in kindergarten, he asked me why I had put Rosa Parks off the bus. He noted, and with authority, that it was a white man who had done this to her and that I was white. I am not sure he paid much attention to my “cows have four legs and dogs have four legs but dogs are not cows” explanation.

Marshall Thulani

Marshall Thulani

When a little younger than his kindergarten induction into the world of race-relations, Thulani was draped in a towel and, stepping from the shower, he glanced down at his naked body, closed his eyes and prayed: “Lord Jesus. Make me the same color as my daddy!” Opening his eyes, he glanced at his unchanged skin color and said, “Oh well. Didn’t work. I like brown anyway.”

“Just as well,” I noted, “you are going to be brown for a long time.”

“You know,” said Thulani in the fifth grade, “I am the only black boy in my class? There are girls. But I am the only black boy.”

“You know,” I replied, “I am the only white man in our house.”

4 Comments to “Race matters”

  1. wonderful analogies- I love hearing your stories- a lot of which I haven’t heard. I have just started writing about what Isabel has said in my blog- its a great way to remember as it will be forever (whatever that means) online. miss you guys. wish I was travelling in some ways and not in others. Tell Nate and T I say hi. You may enjoy my last blog entry entitled Grandpa Powells funeral- http://lifeasweknowit-kathryn.blogspot.com/

  2. I LOVE this!! Silver and Gold… that is perfect!

  3. My oldest son’s first realization of any color distinction between he and I was when he was about 3 or 4. We were at the mall and we saw a beautiful little black baby girl all dressed up in pink and he said, ” AWWWWW look at that pretty chocolate baby….” It was precious and innocent. I then told him that he was chocolate too and just as pretty. He looked at me and realized with his eyes that I was not the same color… He said “Mommy – you do love chocolate don’t you?” in the sweetest most innocent way and I told him that indeed, chocolate is one of mommy’s most favorite things! That was our first introduction into racial differences and I wish that all of the other racial issues brought up to me and he in the South were as positive and sweet…sigh… they haven’t been…

  4. My son (8) attends Sunday School at the church where white and black worship God together. One day at home he asked me:”Mom ,why am I black but not white?” I said, “Because God created you black”.

    Then I asked him:” why this question?”He replied, “White is beautiful.”

    I explained to him, “You know, God loves colours. Look at the rainbow with blue, red, yellow… Isn’t it beautiful?

    “Yes,” he said.

    I continued, “God created man like that too, black, white, red, yellow….Everybody is beautiful and loved by God. Also Gos is wise. We have always sun, that could burn, so black skin endures sun more than another colour.”

    He seemed to be satisfied, it worked out. For feed back I asked him: “Do you love your skin?”

    He said quickly and he was convinced: “Yes mom, sure!”

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