This is not a self righteous rant, but an opportunity to share my experience and a change in perspective. Please hang in there with me. We are adopting from Uganda therefore our baby will be black. Or African American. Whatever you prefer, turns out preference and what's considered PC are pretty regional.
Since my girls have plenty of dolls that look like them I decided it would be good to get them a baby that looks like their future sibling. Russ and I ran by target to get a doll when we were in Amarillo the other day.
There was one.
It was a baby Tianna and therefore amazingly overpriced.
My gut reaction was to be outraged at Target, but it's not really their fault with supply and demand and all that jazz. Then I got disappointed in our community, but I'm gonna give a pass on that one too because I believe we've been fed a sugar coated idealistic lie that we are colorblind.
But as a mom that spends a lot of hours a week with my toddler and a box of crayons I know that's not true.
We are not colorblind.
I haven't yet come across a situation in which avoidance fostered change, growth, or understanding. Never. I think the intention behind the "colorblind" thought process is good but here is why we aren't going with it:
1. It's against human nature. Not only are we not colorblind we are naturally more comfortable with the familiar and fearful of the unfamiliar. The only way to help a child feel comfortable from those different them themselves is exposure and familiarity.
2. Shame. Often avoidance or or the quieting of curiosity creates an atmosphere of shame. When kids ask questions or notice colors or physical differences (which they will inevitably do) we have two choices, to shush them and create a "we don't talk about that" kind of shame or an opportunity to talk about difference and what they mean and don't mean.
3. We can't address it if we don't acknowledge that differences exists. We want our children to e compassionate and understanding that God created people in a wide spectrum of shapes, sizes, colors, physical capabilities, and varying degrees of health. We can't do that if we are pretending we are all alike.
Here is the deal, until the last year I've never even considered buying a black baby doll. I was as much a part of the problem as the next person. I want to learn from this and I want to suggest that we all do. So I've also provided some suggestions:
1. Make different familiar. Check your media, toys, books, and dolls. Do they all look just like you? Probably time to diversify.
2. Talk about it. When a child starts noticing the difference between boys and girls we don't hush them, we talk to them about it; let's do the same for other things like race and physical and mental disabilities.
3. Check your own life. Does everyone in your life look and act just like you? Is it because you are uncomfortable around people different than yourself? Maybe time to reach out.
So go ahead buy your baby a doll that looks different than her reflection. I promise something that simple an make a huge difference in her little life.