This afternoon, my 4-1/2-year-old daughter peered out of her bedroom window and informed me, in a vaguely astonished voice, "Mama! Miss Sue next door has a green trash can, two blue trash cans, and two human-color trash cans!"
The "human color" trash cans are dark brown.
Since we live in a pretty white suburb (or at least a pretty white neighborhood), my daughter doesn't actually know a lot of people of color. Several of her preschool classmates are Asian, and some of the kids her age at church are Costa Rican, but she doesn't really know anyone with noticeably dark skin.
She does, however, watch TV that shows children of all ethnicities. Doc McStuffins is a particular favorite, and of course, she has noticed that Doc has darker skin than her own (which could be described, without exaggeration, as "alabaster").
She is fascinated by people who are different from her, so, being blond and blue-eyed, she comments on friends (real or fictitious) who look different. She notices that Doc has dark hair and skin, which are very unlike her own butter-blond hair and very fair skin.
Every once in a while she watches Dora and Friends, and she has noticed that although Dora has relatively fair skin, her friend Emma has dark skin.
In fact, there are quite a few children's television programs which include characters with dark skin: Princess Pea on Super Why, Daniel Tiger's Miss Elaina, Quincy from Little Einsteins, even DJ Lance on Yo Gabba Gabba.
These characters are as much a part of her world as the children that she sees at school, at church, and in her neighborhood. To her, these people are no more different from her than the boy at school with straight hair (unlike her curly mop), the girl at church with olive skin and black hair, the kids down the street who are tall and thin, or the new student at school who is a foot shorter than even the youngest kids. To my daughter, differences of skin color are no more noticeable than differences of shirt colors or hair colors or backpack colors or height.
And I love that. I love that she notices that people come in different colors but doesn't think anything of it. Some people are blond, some are dark-haired, some have red hair. Some people have dark skin, some have light, some are in between. Some people are tall, some are short, some are in the middle. Some people like to play sports, others like to read, others like to play pretend. It's what makes us all unique.
I pray that she can hold onto that attitude all her life long. After all, aren't we all the same under the skin, whether it's black or white or olive or copper or beige or anything else? We're all human colored.