Kids Ask Questions About Skin Color and Race
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Politics and Activism

Kids Often Ask Me 'Why Don't You Look Like Me?' Because Of The color of my skin

When kids ask to feel my hair

Kids Often Ask Me 'Why Don't You Look Like Me?' Because Of The color of my skin

As a black person with naturally curly, thick hair, it's not unexpected for me to receive the disappointing, highly inappropriate question: "Can I touch your hair?"

With one click of a casual Google search, you'll find that this question has become somewhat a symbol of racism and racial ignorance.

My siblings and I, who share many physical attributes, are often randomly asked about our heritage and whether our hair is real.

Just last semester, when we were getting ready to leave school for the day, my sister was asked the latter. Her curls were out over her shoulders and a girl (whom she barely knew) repeatedly questioned its authenticity, despite being told many times that it was, in fact, very real.

Questions like these coming from adults are incredibly rude and scream ignorance. They invalidate a black person's privacy and do the same to their humanity.

Adults should be mature enough to respect our privacy, but what happens when these questions don't come from an adult? What if they're coming from a child?

Looking back at the last two weeks, I realize I've received many inquiries about my appearance.

Last week, I was relaxing near a playground for a moment when a five-year-old girl approached me, pointed at my bare arm, and asked, "Why is your skin that color?"

I was taken aback for a second, mildly surprised by such a blunt question about my skin tone. But then I looked at my arm with her and explained why.

Surprisingly, considering my feelings of discomfort when asked questions about my appearance in the past, I was happy to tell her that the world is filled with different skin tones and that they are all normal and beautiful.

I was also content to answer questions from other kids that came later on, such as:

Why is your hair like that? How come your hair isn't straight? Why is your skin so dark?

And even the age-old:

Can I touch your hair?

The kids who have asked to do this are in no way gentle with it, but I am fine even with that. Why? Because I know there is no ill intent or underlying contempt.

I'm a firm believer that kids (at least generally) lack prejudice and hatred towards different races and backgrounds. They are simply curious, craving information about the world around them. I believe the best way to handle the questions they throw at me is to answer them honestly.

Of course, I am in no way obligated to let them get their hands on my curls, and it is not my responsibility as a person of color to explain these things. However, I know that giving them the tools to understand can go a long way. I want to explain why I don't look like them, proving that different cultures and identities are not only normal but also wonderful.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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