by Brendah Nyakudya, a single mum to a 4yr old girl. Admittedly not the best cook, but loves exploring the outdoors with her little one. A political and social commentator she has just started a blog As I see it. During the day she works for management consultants in Johannesburg
When we picked a nursery school for our 4 year old daughter, racial percentages of the kids in the school wasn’t an issue. It was a highly recommended school and close to home, so it made sense for her to go there.
The fact that she is one of 3 black kids in the class also didn’t bother me until one Saturday morning when she woke me up with the statement “Mommy I don’t like brown people except for my family, I only like white people”. Obviously this shook me right out of my reverie of sleeping in and uninterrupted showers. I hesitantly asked “Why don’t you like brown people?” to which she responded “They are boring and they make me upset”. I try to make light of the situation and say “But sweetheart, brown is beautiful and it’s the colour of chocolate. We like chocolate don’t we?” Her response? “No, I like white marshmallows.”
So here I am sitting in my bedroom faced by my little racist toddler at a complete loss as to what to do or say thinking this child needs Jesus, but little things start to make sense e.g. how she wants me to make her hair “like Sally*”, she prefers Barbie to her darker counterparts and how she is always more comfortable around white people than around “brown” people.
I then had the talk with her about the fact that no skin colour is better than any other colour and that brown is beautiful. She eventually said “I like brown people Mommy” but I am not convinced she is convinced. Could it be that being part of the minority has made her hate who she is? Was it something one of the kids said? How does a parent deal with this? Any ideas welcome.
P.S. In the meantime I am making sure she doesn’t end up with my friend’s son the homophobe.
*names changed to protect the innocent