Race Issue

Rose is obsessed with black baby dolls. If she has a choice between a black baby doll and a white one, she will always choose the black one. Recently we were at our local children’s museum and she piled up three of them to take care of in the play hospital. The white babies were completely ignored.

Her obsession fascinates me. This happens at every public play place we attend. Aside from her baby Cinderella doll, she doesn’t do much with her multi-colored baby dolls at home. We have two Asian baby dolls that are completely ignored. I bought her a black baby doll because I knew she loved them, but the only black doll I was able to find locally wasn’t nearly as dark as the baby dolls she’s drawn to in public. She ignores her black baby doll at home. I need to find a doll identical the the ones in this picture because these are exactly the dolls she loves.

I asked Rose why she likes these baby dolls so much. I think it’s adorable, but it’s an interesting choice for a half Korean/half Jewish girl. Rose’s answer?

“I like brown babies. These are brown babies like me!”

My half-Korean/half-white 3-year-old self-identifies as black.

I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s absolutely fine if she thinks she’s black. She definitely has darker skin than any of her friends, her mother and her sisters. I can see why she might think she’s black since images of black people are more prominent than Asian ones in the media. The truth is, however, she is not black. She’s Asian.

I think it’s important that she understand her own racial identity, so I got out her Asian babies and explained that while it is absolutely awesome that she loves to play with “brown babies” and I hope she continues to do so, she’s actually an Asian baby and THIS was an Asian baby like her. She was really excited by the fact that this baby, which we’ve had since before she can remember, looks like her and Daddy. She had never identified it looking like her before. Its skin is lighter than hers and its hair is black while hers is brown, so I don’t think she really understands how it looks like her.

I also explained that I am white and she is also a white baby. She’s a white AND brown baby.

What did she take away from this? Today she told her dad she didn’t have a brown face like him. She has a white face.

It’s apparently very confusing to be a 3-year-old biracial kid. We did not go through this with Lily, but her skin is very close in shade to mine. Lily’s also not as socially perceptive and verbal as Rose, so maybe these questions just haven’t come out of her yet. I’ve explained her racial situation to her to the best of my ability, but who knows what she’s gotten out of that if Rose took away that Daddy was brown and she was white when I explained she wasn’t actually a black baby but a biracial white and Asian one.

I’m not sure where we’re going with this. I keep explaining what it means that Daddy is Asian and Mommy is Jewish and “white” and how she’s a perfect blend of the two. I just have to hope that’s good enough.

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  1. Pingback: Demographic Quandry | Creative Kids Play

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