The Boy wanted to know who he was and asked if he played for the Cardinals.
No, the husband said. Satchel Paige was a really good pitcher, but he couldn't play with the Cardinals and the other players.
Which of course led to the eternal preschooler question: Why?
So, the husband, trying to keep it simple said: Because he was different he couldn't play.
Because people were racist, the husband said. (He still was trying to avoid the discussion.)
Why? (Damn preschoolers. Can't let anything go.)
Because he was black, the husband said.
Because his skin was a different color, the husband said. But he was a really good pitcher and who knows how good he could have been if he played with all the other players. And that's not very nice that they didn't let him play, is it?
No, The Boy said.
And then he told a story about when he and his friend were older and weren't allowed to play for the Cardinals.
As adults, we say that skin color doesn't matter. And it doesn't. But I don't think that acting as if we all look alike sends kids the right message. They can see that we all look different. So, when skin color -- or any other difference (The husband had to explain about wheelchairs the other day) -- comes up, we usually just acknowledge it and say something else about the person. The Boy said V at school had brown skin, for example, and I said, yes and she has red hair, isn't she pretty?
Admittedly though, I have no real guide from my own childhood for talking about race. Unlike my boys, I grew up in a very white, rural area. There was such little diversity that a black kid who graduated from one of the small school districts in our county was referenced in conversations as The Black Kid from Little School. I don't remember even thinking about race until late elementary school. I wonder if the husband and I are handling this the right way. Will he go to school tomorrow and tell someone they can't play because their skin is a different color? Did he take away that it was wrong to do that? How will this translate for a 3-year-old?
So, tell me, how do you talk to your kids about race?