Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What color are you?

Seems like an easy question, doesn't it. But, it sure stumped me when my daughter (who was born in China) asked me what color she was.

She knew she wasn't black and she knew she wasn't white, but she couldn't figure out-in a world where lots of things seem black and white-where she fit in. Never mind that 2/3 of the world's population shares her physical traits-she wanted to know where she was on the color spectrum.

She knew our black friend Gloria's skin is pecan brown, and the people she sees in Jamaica remind her of the ebony keys on the piano. Her friend Chasen's skin is lighter than Gloria's and is more like a creamy chocolate. But she still didn't know what color she was.

She compared her skin to mine-I am of Italian descent and my skin is decidedly olive-y-and she announced that she didn't know why I was white. "Snow is white, vanilla ice cream is white-you are not white, Mommy," she said. And, you know, she is right.

"If I am not white, then what color am I," I asked. She looked at the bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter and pulled out a peach, a plum and an apriot. She thought for a minute and said, "you are peacicot-a combination of peach and apricot. Not what I had expected, but at least she didn't pull out the green apple!

She began to see that people are not black or white, they are ebony, pecan brown, peachicot and creamy chocolate and every color in between. She is learning that the world-and people are a rich tapestry of shapes, colors, smells and sizes. But she still couldn't quite fit herself into the spectrum until she saw a toucan on TV. When she saw the toucan's beak she spotted a color that she felt best represented her---and it was a beautiful yellowish color.

As she began to feel comfortable with her 'color' she looked at me and said, "we are all such beautiful colors, but I don't really think it matters-what matters is what is inside."

I couldn't have said it better myself-in fact I wish I had said it.

What color are you? How would you answer the question. For me, I am quite content being peacicot! And take a good look at the toucan's beak when you get a chance....maybe you will see yourself!


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