BERTA ISABEL ARIAS
Wisdom Around Us
Out of the Mouths of Babes
As we come to the close of a most difficult year for the world, 2020 has again highlighted the need for loving care of each other past our differences, whether they be rooted in cul-ture, religion, politics, social standing, or race.
The latter is the most painful in my opinion for our country, and my hope is that the new year brings greater understanding and appreciation of the beauty of diversity.
I love telling friends the story of the day when my youngest daughter, Melissa, came home very confused about a conversation her kindergarten teacher had with the class regarding color.
Now, here I’ll digress for a moment to say that my two very artistically inclined daughters showed a talent for the visual arts early on, a talent that they did not get from me, but which filled my heart and our home with their wonderful art work. With their one hundred and twenty coloring pencil set, my girls didn’t choose the blue pencil but rather aqua blue or peacock blue as they drew.
Still on my credenza in a small frame is a post-it notecard with a drawing and poem from Melissa when she was seven years old:
(red heart) The red means love
(orange heart) The peace
(green heart) The fun
(yellow heart) Sunny days
(blue heart) Taking care of me
(lilac heart) The care
So not surprising, then, that my daughter seemed confused that her kindergarten teacher focused on white and black when there were so many colors to be seen. She couldn’t repeat any details from the talk except that the teacher kept making a point about being black or white and Melissa couldn’t understand why this was an issue.
Since we had not received any note from the teacher or the school that in her kindergarten class they would be discussing race, I remember bracing myself for one of those moments as a parent when one needs to provide a thoughtful and intelligent answer to guide a young, developing mind.
However, before I could get my thoughts together in a cohesive response, Melissa’s next comment changed everything.
“Mom, I don’t know why Miss *** is talking about black and white. Aren’t we beige?”
And with that, I knew we were raising our daughters as nonjudgmental beings and, at least for the moment, she needed no more explanation.
“Yes, we’re beige.”
She was satisfied as was I.
Only a child can make such a simple and meaningful observation when the color of another’s skin makes no difference in how we see that person. For my girls, skin color was, and is, no more or less important than seeing the color of someone’s eyes or the texture of their hair.