“Why are you brownish?” asked the child.

“Your children will become who you are; so be who you want them to be.” Anonymous

She remembers the first time it happened. It was at a party in the South of France when she realized the little boy hoping around her. Then, as subtly as a child can be, he touched her arm and looked down at his hand. Nothing! So, he did it again, and again. She let him do, waiting for the moment he would figure it out! Then, he abruptly stopped jumping around, looked straight at her and said as loudly as he could, making sure she could hear him despite the loud music: “Why are you brownish?”. Suddenly she could hear the flies buzzing. She could see the embarrassment on his parents’ face. His mother looked mortified, surely wishing she could make her son disappear. The music had stopped and so had everyone else. Meanwhile, the little one stood there, his legs apart, waiting for the answer. She bent down, looked at him, smiled and gave him the only answer that made sense to her: “Because I am black”. For a few seconds, he kept looking at her. Did it make sense to him? Did he understand that, what she meant was, that was the skin color she was born with? She expected him to ask more questions but instead, he got closer to her, took her hand and pulled her to the dance floor. They  danced together for the rest of the evening. He was happy. What was he thinking? Was she some extraordinary being who happened to be at his party or just a big girl he could dance with? She would never know. All she knew is that he seemed content with his answer. He didn’t want to know more, he didn’t need to, because there was no more to say.

After that evening, she never saw the little boy again. He surely went to meet other black or brownish people in his life. She just hopes he turned out to be as accepting of them as he was with her that evening. That was the first of many other encounters of the same type though. Children, all between the age of four and five, realizing for the first time that this person they had known all this time actually looked different from them and/or from their parents. From a hesitant “Are you kind of brownish?” to a confident “Are you black?”, she has given them the same answer with always the same results. They would either exude a sense of relief because they turned out to be right; she indeed looked different from them, or real happiness because they probably have cracked a mystery that the rest of their peers might haven’t even realized yet. It was always a one time question, one answer and that was all. At the end of the day, it never seemed to make any difference to them that she was different. Now, if only adults could be the same way.  Be just as acceptant and tolerant!  How amazing would that be?

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