When Zizi’s daughter Sammy came home one evening and demanded that she wanted white skin instead of black skin Zizi was flabberghasted ane didn’t know how to respond to the child. Did she do something wrong in raising her was she remiss in building the child’s esteem and appreciation.
“Why would you want to change your beautiful colour?”
“It’s not beautiful, it’s dirty”
“It’s not so, come I’ll show you” her mother took her to the sink and washed her face and hand “okay, look at the water, is it dirty?
“No, it’s clean”
“Good, so your skin is not dirty and no matter how much you wash it, it will be the same, you understand that don’t you?
“But why do the children at school think that it is dirty?
“Because they don’t know any better. They are not accostumed to seeing people who are different from them, I’ll tell you a little story”
“When I was little and growing up in Leguan Island there were only dark skinned people. There were East Indians, Douglas those are people who are mixed with East Indian and African. We always heard about white people but never really saw them only in books and photographs but when I did see my first white man with blue eyes I ran and hid I thought he was a ghost and someone without his real skin, like sort of a handicapped person. We had some people called albino their parents are black but the child may born white skin and he or she couldn’t stand in the sun too long. We thought those kind of people were funny but their eyes were dark and we knew something was wrong with them so we were not so scared but many people did not play with those kind of children”
“that’s prejudice mom”
“Yes, even mom was prejudiced when I was little and it’s because I didn’t know better now that I am grown up I understand why those children who were born white was the way they were. You see once you understand something it’s easier to accept it and not to fear it”
“So you’re saying if they understand why I am black they won’t think my skin is dirty”
“How will I make them understand mom?”
“I’ll tell you what, I’ll go and see your teacher and I will attend one of your classes and explain to the children about black people all over the world. I will show them pictures and stuff like that to make them understand, maybe they’ll be nicer to you”
“You think so?”
“I know so. Children learn quickly and they are open minded, spontaneous and basically very good people”
“You know, the only way I can change your skin to white is if I soak you in boiling hot water” her mother giggled
“I don’t think I want to change my skin mom. On second thought I think I love my color”
“And I love it too and I think it suits you best. I don’t think you’d be as pretty if your skin was anyother color. Look at me am I not the picture of loveliness”
“You’re the prettiest and smartest mom in the whole wide world”
“Thank you, I’d say so myself”.
The next week Zizi appeared in class with her scrap book of children and their families from Africa, India, China and other parts of the world that she could find. She tried to explain to the children that everyone’s color was important to him and that made him or special.
“My daughter is very special to me. I love her very much and I happen to think she has the finest color and skin the this whole wide world. I’m sure your mom and dad would say the same things about you. We all love our children and we want everyone to love them too. I feel very sad and disappointed when someone hates my daughter because of her skin. No one can change the way we are, it’s the way we are born. I want to ask a question Zizi said”
the children perked up ready for the challenge.
I want you to imagine a room full of white flowers, see white flower everywhere on the table, in the living room, in the dining room even outside in the flower garden. Can you see it”
“Yes” the children chorus
“Now I want you to imagine the same thing but this time with different kinds of flower, bright reds, yellow, green, pick, blue, purple, black”
“Can you see it”
“Yes” they chorus again enjoying the fun
“Now, I want you to tell me which room would you choose to sit in”
“The room with different kinds of flowers” the entire class was agreed on this.
“I would choose the same one too” Zizi said
“Why do you like the one with different color flowers”
The room was quiet for a while then one child put her finger up. She stood up. Zizi asked her what her name was. She replied Tanya.
“Okay Tanya why did you like the one with the different color flowers”
“Because it’s prettier”
“Because the one with the all white flower was boring and the one with lots of different colors looked better”
A boy put up his hand. Zizi again asked him to state his name.
His name was Ryan.
“Okay Ryan let’s hear what you have to say”
“I like the room with the different flower colors because it’s more interesting, the other room was boring”.
“I am glad you all like the variety of colors. I want you think about people in the same way. If your school had children with different colors, different hair texture, different color eyes and hair, don’t you think it would be beautiful”
The children said yeah.
“When you see people who are different from the way you are think of them as a flower with a different color and how each color helps to make our world a more beautiful place for all of us. Prejudice hurts everyone”
“What is prejudice?” Clara a bright eye red hair girls asked.
“I will give you an example suppose when I walked in the room here you this morning you said to yourself, she is a bad lady, I don’t like her. That’s prejudice because you didn’t even know me and yet you thought I was bad. Now that you know me a little bit you can now decide whether I am a good or bad person. You understand what I mean?”
“Another kind of prejudice is when you don’t like someone just because he or she is different from you. For example if I said I didn’t like the boys or girls in the this class just because they’re white, I am being prejudiced. This is not right”.
“How many of you didn’t like me when I came into this class this morning?”
One solitary hand went up. It was Brian.
“Why didn’t you like me Brian”
“I don’t know” he shrugged his shoulders smiling “maybe because you’re black and you talk funny”
Zizi smiled “I see”
“Do you still feel that way about me Joey?”
“No. I like you now”
“What made you change your mind Joey?”
“Because you’re nice and you’re funny and because you’re teaching us good stuff. I like you”
“Thanks Joey to hear you say that makes me feel very happy”.
“You’re welcome” Joey smiled proudly.
“It’s like that when you get to know someone. Not everyone is nice. Some children behave very badly, like to fight, mean. It’s hard to like such people but it’s always wise to wait until you know someone before deciding whether that person is going to be your friend or not”.
Samantha was very proud of her mother and it did make a difference. The children no longer made her feel she should change her skin color. They began to accept her. Some children still teased her and called her Blackie when they get into fight but it didn’t bother Sammy as much. She saw her color as one of the many natural colors in the world that help to make the world a beautiful place to live
(c) 1990 BAW