DD called someone 'brown'

(40 Posts)
ameliarose2012 Fri 01-Aug-14 19:21:32

I'm not going to say what I actually did, as I don't want to influence responses.

So... yesterday on the train DD (2.1, but VERY verbal!) was chatting away and said 'look mummy, a brown girl. Oh, and a brown lady'

The woman and child in question were within earshot, and DEFINITELY heard her. I didn't know where to put myself, or what to say!

WWYD?

CunfuddledAlways Fri 01-Aug-14 19:26:12

yes i can see, people come in lots of shapes and sizes and different colours too...oh look at that (insert something vaguely distracting)

ameliarose2012 Sat 02-Aug-14 11:16:24

Anyone else?

idontlikealdi Sat 02-Aug-14 11:31:05

What confuddled said. Mine are going through a very literal descriptive phase at the moment.

GingerRodgers Sat 02-Aug-14 11:35:49

Exactly as pp said. They have no idea about 'social skills' and are just very literal at that age.
Dd pointed out someone the other day who had bandages on their face. I just said something along the lines of 'oh yes, so he does. Please don't point at people though' which I'm sure confused her as we point at ducks, trees, every other thing we can see

If I ask who a particular person is at school dd might well describe then as having a brown face. I have no idea what to say either! I think in your case what confuddled said is good.

commonorgarden Sat 02-Aug-14 11:38:03

Mine have done this. One was hair obsessed. I handled it like 'yes, their skin is brown and your skin is pinky colour' (assuming you are white). 'Mummy's skin is a bit different to yours too-we all look a bit different.'

lljkk Sat 02-Aug-14 11:42:11

"Yes people have different skin colours. Wouldn't it be boring if we all looked the same?"

But it backfired a few yrs later. sad 5yo DS2 called a boy at school "brown-head". DS2 thought he was just being factual and trying to get attention, but the lad he called that name* was incensed and thought it was very racist & stopped being friends with DS1 after that, insisting that we were obviously all a racist family.

It's true I am hopeless at explaining racism to small children in a completely non-multi-cultural area. Black people on telly are about as real as Superman to DC.

I've read it's a common mistake white families make, thinking that if we ignore race kids won't pick up on it, but they are actually very instinctively tribal & in naivety can be very racist. So we have to tackle it head on after all at the youngest possible age.

*Polynesian/Oceanic in origin, only very slightly browner than the rest.

Singsongmama Sat 02-Aug-14 11:49:20

What did you say Ameliarose? Did the woman look insulted?

Singsongmama Sat 02-Aug-14 11:50:05

Posted too soon. Was going to agree with other posts, good suggestions for future!

Branleuse Sat 02-Aug-14 11:51:59

im not sure what the problem is?

mineallmine Sat 02-Aug-14 11:57:31

I'm white so maybe I'm not seeing things the way a black /Asian person would but I don't see the problem with what she said. I can't see how anyone would take exception to that? My ds used to say this when he was small too and he described his own skin as beige. As PPs suggested, I'd just say 'Yes, we're all different etc.' The difficulty comes when your dd will say 'Mummy that lady is very fat' and THEN you will be embarrassed because while it may be true, it will be hard to hear.

sebsmummy1 Sat 02-Aug-14 12:01:20

Would it be incorrect to go down the - it's not polite to talk about other people or stare at other people etc? ie 'look Mummy a brown girl and a brown lady', 'oh yes that's right, we all come in different shapes and sizes, you have pale skin and brown hair, that lady has dark skin and black hair, but darling it is rude to point and stare at other people, it's not nice so let's look at something else distract distract

Surely the same if a young child comments on a disability. Yes that's right that lady has hurt her arm/leg, or yes that child is in a wheelchair but darling it's rude to talk about people .......

CeliaBowen Sat 02-Aug-14 12:09:55

We have just said yes, some people have brown skin, just like some people have brown hair, or red hair, or blonde hair. The DDs have accepted that perfectly happily.

ameliarose2012 Sat 02-Aug-14 18:24:40

I pretty much said what you guys have recommended - 'oh yes, so there is. Where is your dinosaur? distract'

I'm glad people think that's the appropriate course of action. She gets very forceful if I don't acknowledge EVERYTHING she says, and just repeats herself louder and louder.

The woman didn't look offended at all. We never spoke, but I didn't want to appear rude to her! In hindsight, if I was referred to as 'the pink lady' I wouldn't be in the least offended, and would probably think it was quite cute coming from a 2yo!

Thanks for making me feel better about it smile

LondonRocks Sat 02-Aug-14 18:28:59

Was she brown though?

I'm not sure why calling a brown person brown is offensive.

BertieBotts Sat 02-Aug-14 18:30:07

Yep I would go with "Yes that's right but it's not nice to point" and then later have a conversation where you tell her that it's not usually polite to call somebody brown and that the word we use is black, and then when she's older you can explain that some silly, nasty people aren't very nice to people who have a different skin colour, and because of this it might upset somebody to have their skin colour pointed out.

LondonRocks Sat 02-Aug-14 20:09:02

What's wrong with brown?!

Has the world gone mad?

Yes, explain about pointing. And maybe go to more multicultural places now and then, so this isn't a 'thing'.

ameliarose2012 Sat 02-Aug-14 21:18:58

We live in a very multicultural area. I don't think it's a lack of life experience. Maybe just the first time she's noticed?

Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with brown, but the woman she said it about might've. It's so easy to offend in this day and age!

rumtumtugger Sat 02-Aug-14 21:27:36

I am brown. I wouldn't have been offended by the child saying that, but may have been offended by how the parent reacted, depending on what they said and/or how they said it. I personally prefer the, "yes, everyone is different, isn't it wonderful" approach, and that's what I use with my 3.5yo dd.

Interestingly, she is entirely colour-blind, which I attribute to the fact we live in inner London. We haven't pointed any differences in skin tones out to her, but there's massive variation around - lots of brown, black, pinky and yellowy toned skins. She once referred to a volunteer at her nursery as 'the white lady' but on further questioning it turned out she had been wearing a white top. There was also a green lady smile

R4roger Sat 02-Aug-14 21:28:36

my neice said a man was chocolate, now thats embarrassing.

rumtumtugger Sat 02-Aug-14 21:28:40

DH is white, if that makes a difference. So she is beige grin

SweepTheHalls Sat 02-Aug-14 21:31:00

My son thinks he's peach as that is the colour he selects when colouring in a picture of himself smile

LondonRocks Sat 02-Aug-14 21:36:53

It absolutely depends on whether it's couched in "shhh, s/he's brown" or "yep, so she is, how lovely that we are all different" kind of thing.

grandmainmypocket Sat 02-Aug-14 21:36:55

I'm black and don't see any reason to be embarrassed. Kids are so innocent at a young age. My son still can't get his head around brown coloured people being called black.
It's funny.

LondonRocks Sat 02-Aug-14 21:38:05

I think it's bizarre that brown people are called black!

BertieBotts Sat 02-Aug-14 22:23:13

YY DS used to refer to people by the colour of their clothes!

He's never noticed race and we didn't live in a particularly multicultural area. He has noticed other things so I'm not being smug! Just this one in particular has never come up.

BertieBotts Sat 02-Aug-14 22:24:19

White people aren't white either, it's more of a peach colour.

The one which always shocks me is yellow - surely not used any more but I've come across it in a couple of books or old films etc.

TreacleSponge29 Sat 02-Aug-14 22:40:51

Had a similar experience with my DD at the same sort of age. She pointed towards the South Asian man sitting opposite us on the Tube and said very loudly "Look Mummy, a monkey!"
I was horrified, shhh-ed her and told her don't say that, it's not nice, people all have different colour skin, etc. She looked really confused and carried on saying "but it's a monkey not a person". Only then did DH point out to me gently that she was actually pointing at the picture of a monkey on the advert above the man's head. Probably my most embarrassing Tube moment ever. Thankfully the guy didn't seem to notice!

skuntoo Sun 03-Aug-14 08:36:23

We are mixed race (brown) and I dont see it as a problem. My Dd4 often points out skin colour and I just say yes everyone is different isnt great. She once asked why a lady was in a wheelchair in a very loud voice whilst pointing and I told her her legs didnt with properly and it was rude to point and then went onto to say that the lady never asked why my Dd was wearing a hearing aid and why dont you wave hello. The lady gave her a massive smile and said hello but I did feel awful as she was on oxygen as well. We get alot of comments while we are out as Dd is brown with a light brown afro and a hearing aid its just children pointing out what they see if I see parent struggles as just explain her ear doesnt with properly and Dd starts talking about her long hearing aid
Also we call black people black as I know in our family they hate being called brown X

skuntoo Sun 03-Aug-14 08:38:26

Sorry pink hearing aid not long !!!

midnightagents Sun 03-Aug-14 08:45:20

My dd once (when aged about 2) said "look mummy that little girls face is brown, I don't like that" sad. I was shock especially as I've got a dark skinned friend who is around dd all the time and dd has never made any comment about. I panicked and said "you must not ever say things like that, I don't want to hear that again bla bla", don't think I handled it well but I was just so embarrassed and shocked. Luckily she hasn't done that again, and don't think she thinks anything of it now.

scottishmummy Sun 03-Aug-14 08:50:23

Kids do say brown to describe,i cant see the issue
If its said factually,with no accompanying putdown its ok

George9978 Sun 03-Aug-14 08:58:04

Just say yes she's a lovely color.

My dc ( age 2) sat staring at a lady on the bus, then said look that lady looks really sad.
What do you mean?
She has sad lines all around her eyes. Look at them mummy there's lots of them.

I could have died.

I was having lunch out yesterday and the little girl at the next table said very distinctly, 'look mummy, that lady has a veeeeery fat tummy!' The mum shot me an embarassed look and then said, 'there's a baby in her tummy, that's why!'

I had no problem with it at all-kids say things without tact all the time and it doesn't mean they've been brought up to notice differences or be racist/sexist/fattist! They just say it like it is. I wouldn't worry. As long as you dealt with it quickly and nicely I'm sure it was fine.

SirChenjin Sun 03-Aug-14 09:28:45

As others have said, as long as you dealt it with it in a nice way (sounds like you did), then I can't see there being a problem.

As an aside, why are people who are brown called black, and why are we called white when we're pink? confused

Hakluyt Sun 03-Aug-14 09:29:33

" It's so easy to offend in this day and age!"

Only if you say offensive things!

I would have gone with the "yes she is, and you're sort of pink.npeople come opinion lots of lovely colours. Now, would you like any more of your drink?" approach too.

WitchWay Wed 06-Aug-14 22:05:51

DS aged 2.6 ish pointed at a very black African man in the supermarket queue (in our middle-class almost exclusively white area) & said "LOOK MUMMY" <died a little inside> "A YELLOW MAN!"

The very black man was indeed wearing a very yellow t-shirt & DS often used to refer to people by the colour of their clothing!

grin Everyone smiled grin

Hillbilly71 Sun 24-Aug-14 22:44:51

My youngest daughter pointed to a woman in Asda, standing right behind us as I was loading the shopping, and stated 'that lady must be having LOTS of babies'. She was obese. I couldn't exactly correct her as that would be more embarrassing so I grabbed her a baguette to chew whilst every adult nearby looked down at their feet!

goodtimesinbontemps Sun 24-Aug-14 23:01:16

When my ds1 was 4 and had just started school they were playing a game where the teacher said a letter and the children took turns to think of a word beginning with that letter. My ds1 got the letter b and said brown like X , a boy in his class. The teacher called me in after class to tell me about it and say it was racist and he was not to say it again. A 4 yr old ffs.

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