My Baby Definitely Sees Race
My daughter has been playing with my Fisher Price vintage people from the 1970’s since she was about a year old. My mom had saved my figurines from my childhood but they were all White—so I went on Ebay and purchased Black figurines before introducing them to her.
There was one figurine from my childhood whose hair had come off. I put her aside so I could glue the hair back on. A few weeks later, I got around to gluing the hair on one evening after bedtime and left it to dry on the dining room table.
My daughter awoke the next morning and immediately inquired about the new figurine standing on the table.
“Oh, “I replied. “I had to fix that person’s hair but now she is ready for you to play with her.” I took her down and handed her to my daughter who took her directly over to the box where the other Fisher Price figures were stored, opened the box, and preceded to find the figure most similar to the new one: A White girl with the same hair style.
“Dos! (Two!)” she told me, showing me one girl in each fist.
I was impressed. Out of the 15 or so other figures in the box, she knew exactly which one she was looking for. The one that looked most similar. And she found it.
“Yes,” I affirmed. “Both of these dolls have the same skin color that we also call White, and the same hair style…their hair color is different, though.”
There is plentiful research that confirms children are not colorblind. But all the research in the world could not be more powerful than seeing it firsthand.
My daughter sees race.
Sachi Feris is a blogger at Raising Race Conscious Children, an online a resource to support adults who are trying to talk about race with young children. Sachi also co-facilitates interactive workshops/webinars and small group workshop series on how to talk about race with young children. Sachi currently teaches Spanish to Kindergarten and 1st grade at an independent school in Brooklyn.