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Racism in almost 3 year old??!

(12 Posts)
gabid Wed 03-Aug-11 10:30:54

On a number of occasions I have noticed DD (almost 3) rejecting or expressing that she didn't like black people. This part of the country is not very multicultural so it might be a bit of a novelty to see someone looking very different.

Yesterday we went to an event and DD was very keen on having her face painted. There was a white and a black face-painter, the black lady came and chatted to DD, DD refused and indicated that she wanted the white lady to paint her face. The face painting was very busy and I couldn't see any of the other children having issues with that.

Some months ago we walked behind a lady in an African outfit carrying her baby on the back. DD, usually very keen on babies remarked that she didn't like that black baby! I then said to DD that I think the baby was very cute, the lady then turned around and smiled at me. DD speaks German to me so it is unlikely that they have understood what she said but you never know.

DP and I have travelled a lot and lived in different countries, DP spend 2 years in Africa, so such an attitude does not come from us I would have thought.

We got a couple of books from the library featuring black people and other races which DD enjoyed, however she still refused to have her face painted by that black lady??

Has anyone had similar experiences?

GwendolineMaryLacey Wed 03-Aug-11 10:41:06

It's not racism, I don't think that a child as young as that can be racist. I certainly wouldn't think it of my 3.6yo. I see it as a reaction to something that she sees as different, that's all. If, as you say, she's not used to seeing many different faces around then she is noticing the difference.

I wouldn't take too much notice at this stage except to do what you're doing, which is to talk to her when she says something and try to counter what she's saying. Keep up the positive reinforcement and I'll bet it'll pass.

gabid Wed 03-Aug-11 10:57:33

Thanks for your support.

Even with such a young child doing it I feel embarrassed and it my be upsetting for that person.

GwendolineMaryLacey Wed 03-Aug-11 11:10:37

Oh I don't doubt you are embarrassed, I would be too. I'm amazed DD hasn't said something by now, she's usually very outspoken! But much as we here on Mumsnet disapprove of 'loud parenting' wink I think in this situation it's a good thing. Just keep doing what you're doing, but I agree it would make me blush.

randomimposter Wed 03-Aug-11 13:25:55

Over the last year I noticed DS (now 3.2) acting a bit differently when he saw black or Asian skins. We live somewhere which is predominately white, and his nursery staff are all white. I think it's just a case of him noticing the difference and being a bit nervous/unsure/wary. He didn't make any comment, just stared a bit longer than normal, and acted a bit shy. It seems to have stopped now.

I agree with the comment that it's not racist. Also empathise with the potential embarrassment thing. I've got the "well we've all got different colour skins if you look carefully" comment up my sleeve if needed!

BlueArmyGirl Wed 03-Aug-11 17:06:04

Been there & done that. Dd went through a phase of it. Similar to you we live in a fairly mono-cultural area and I think it was largely beyond her experience - noticed the difference but that was a bigger deal than being similar, not had the same reaction to children using wheelchairs as Grandma has one so fits with her knowledge and experience!!

I did the same as you - bought some books, looked for some positive images in tv, films etc and tried to extend her experience that way.

gabid Wed 03-Aug-11 22:10:52

Thanks, so its not just mine.

JacksonPollocks Thu 04-Aug-11 10:13:17

My 15 month old is different with people with darker skins. We're very white eastern european (think white haired children) and I don't know if this makes the difference more obvious for him but I'm surprised as we live in such a multi-cultural area. He's only small but even friends have noticed he turns away from or scowls at non-white skins, or goes quiet and wiggles away. It has been embarrassing on a few occasions, in particular one time with a large group of friends where others picked up on the fact he'd only high-five the white people. Luckily it became a joke as he's so young and a friend simply stuck him on her lap and played until he relaxed. I'm just persistent and don't react, I keep him still and encourage him to wave hello etc to everyone in the same way. I'm sure he'll grow out of it and forget the awkwardness, weirdly we once had a puppy who was the same and the same tactics worked on him! I guess he's just scared of difference while young.

Morph2 Fri 05-Aug-11 21:35:44

When we were little we had a mixed race friend across the road (white mum black dad). My mum tells me that when we were over playing if his dad came home from work my brother would run home and they used to ask him why and he said 'Kevin's daddy has a black face and its not like my daddy'. My bro is now 36 and is the least rascist person in the world.

I now have a little boy 14 month, very fair skin, blonde hair, blue eyes. My mum takes him to a childrens thing at her church on a saturday and the church is predominantly black people. Mum says loads of the little kids just stare and him and ask if they can touch him. The city where the church is in is very multi cultural and alot of the very small kids have never seen a white baby before.

skewiff Fri 05-Aug-11 21:43:53

We live in a very multicultural part of London and DS was just like this at around 3 also. He'd say that he didn't like his key worker at nursery because she had black skin. And he's say it in other contexts too, although I can't remember exactly what now. It really really worried me and I tried to reason with him about it, but of course he didn't get it, I don't think.

Anyway DS is now 4 and not like this at all anymore.

I think they just recognise that some people are different from their immediate family and don't feel comfortable. But as they get older they become more confident and then it doesn't matter any more.

gabid Sat 06-Aug-11 07:43:58

I always hope that adults make allowances for who is saying it. Was the key worker offended? I hope not! But people without children my be offended, thinking that it is a reflection of the parents.

RitaMorgan Sat 06-Aug-11 07:57:43

Children often go through phases where they prefer people who are "like them".

I think it is worth talking about how people all look different, but are all really the same, rather than pretending no differences exist and we are all colourblind etc. Tell her why it is wrong to treat people differently because of the way they look.

We seem to expect children to be oblivious to these things and see racism as an adult affliction, so it can come as a shock that children notice differences and prefer those similar to them.

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