November 22, 2004

Daddy, Why are we Brown?


This is the question my 6year old son asked me Saturday morning. My son is never without a question and I enjoy answering any question he has. I answer every question my son has with real world answers, I do not give him answers that are meant to stop him from asking more questions, in fact most answers I give him leads to more questions. An example being; he asked me a few times; why does the sun go down? Or when the sun sets in the evening he would ask “where did the Sun go?” I would answer him by saying the earth rotates around the sun and that the sun was on the other side of the earth right now and we are currently in the shadow of the earth. This of course would lead to more questions and we would go back and forth. So when he asked me Daddy, why are we brown? I was more than prepared to answer that question, but I was not ready for what he would say after I answered his question.

In answering my son question and without going to deep, I said, we are brown because we are of African descent, and because we are Black. My son said to me in his six year old childish voice not knowing what he was saying or fully understanding what he was saying “I want to be white”. At this point I sit up, and I asked him what did you say? and my son is no fool, he knows when his dad is not happy, so he says it again in a softer voice. A hundred thoughts run through my head at this point and I know I must handle this properly and not traumatize my son any more than it now appear being Black in a white society is currently and now apparently traumatizing him. I explained to my son that being Black is a wonderful thing and that we are a strong people. I ended by saying to him, I never want hear you say that again and asked him the mandatory, “do you understand” he said yes.

As we went about our day, what my son said to me haunted me. I asked myself why my son would want to be white and what has led him to believe there is some inherent benefit to having white skin. As I wrestled with this question and thinking back to what my son said when I asked him why do he want to be white and him saying “white is cool” ; I wondered has he seen something that says to him being black or brown is not cool. Children are like sponges, they are absorbing everything their eyes and ears come in contact with, thus if my son think being white is cool, this means that something he has seen and heard has brought him to that conclusion.

As a parent one of the things you learn early on is that there are hundreds of things and people that try to undermine the parenting of your child. They will teach your child things that you do not particularly believe in and they instruct your child on things you do not want your child being a part of. An example of this is, my son lost a tooth a month or two ago and after it came out he said he was going to put it under his pillow so that he can get some money. I do not teach my son these fairytales or traditional lies; in fact I tell him the truth about these things when he ask thus if he believes he will get money by putting his tooth under his pillow, this mean he has learned this from somewhere else and it is up to me to tell him the truth and believe me I did.

Getting back to what would cause my son to say “he wants to be white”, I have concluded that my son has paid close attention to the children on television and in cartoons that has things he like and want. He has watched all the children on these various commercials with the new toys he want, that eat at the fast food restaurants and get the toys they have and seen that the one thing the majority of them have in common is their white skin thus linking access to those things with having white skin. I have concluded this because at three years old my son paid close attention to who was the manufacture of the cars friends and family members drove. He would then see a car Manufacture name and properly link it with the friend or family member that drove that brand of car.

What ever the reason is that my son stated he wanted to be white if I am wrong in my conclusion, we can conclude without a doubt that my son has seen some benefit in being white versus being brown, so much that he is willing to give up his beautiful brown skin for white skin. How does this happen, in a society where most white folk and a few Negroes will say race is not a problem today. My son is around more Black folk than anything, my house only have Black art on the walls, my son is not a television junkie but yet I have not been able to stop the white supremacist machine from affecting my son.

This is a warning of sorts to all Black parents in this society dominated by white folk and white supremacy, we must work hard at teaching our children to love their black selves at a young age because if you are not teaching them to love their black selves they will learn to love other than themselves. Some people believe six year olds are to young to understand and be taught anything about race; well I say to those that at six years old, my son has ascertained from everything he has seen and heard that there is a benefit in being white versus being brown and I may not know exactly how he came to that conclusion but the truth is he has and now I will spend my everyday teaching him otherwise as I have always planned to do.


At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faheem, this is Vox, from I try to read this blog when I get a chance, but this post moved me to comment. I am determined that if I ever have kids, they will never have these kinds of issues/doubts. So u can imagine how disheartening it is to hear that Faheem's son (!!) is experiencing this.

I am absolutely convinced that there's a way for parents avoid this. I refuse to believe otherwise. But I'll have to chew on it and reflect before offering anything. Meanwhile, thanks for so powerfully, candidly raising this experience.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Faheem said...

There must be a way indeed for our children to escape these feelings. It will be a task in itself for Black parents to make sure there child does not get to the point where my child is in that he stated he wanted to be white; I am certain that a great many of our children feel the same way but because they do not have a relationship like the one me and my son have with their parents where in they are comfortable asking any question and then offering their own opinion these feelings are not made known. I have always encouraged my son to ask any question that pops up in his little head, every child goes through a stage where they have questions about everything. Depending on how the people they are asking these questions respond will determine if the child will continue to ask questions. Some children are told to stop asking so many questions, I have been to that point but overall I answer any question my son has thus when he asked why are we brown, I did not think anything of until he said he wanted to be white.

The deepness of my six year old saying he wants to be white must not be missed by anyone that reads this, it is clear that somehow he has come to conclude that white skin is better than brown, the problem is figuring out why he have concluded such and because he can not articulate why, we can only use what we know. I personally can remember as a young child thinking that if I had Blue eyes, I could be on TV because everyone on TV had Blue eyes and this was in the late seventies and early eighties when Blue eyes were the thing to have on TV.

To shield our children from wanting to be white, we must limit the programming they watch with non Brown or Black people in it. This includes PBS, The Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and the various movies they love to watch. I have plenty of black children books that my son and I will be spending more time reading than we have previously because I refuse to allow him to grow up thinking white skin is better than his brown skin. That is a burden no child should have to bare.

I wonder how many white parents have to deal with their children at such a young age wanting to be other than themselves?

At 8:11 PM, Blogger Scott said...

"it is clear that somehow he has come to conclude that white skin is better than brown"

That is not clear at all. You guys are so figging hysterical. Did you also freak out the first time your son said he wanted to marry a boy friend instead of a girl friend. Or wanted to be a princess. Or a dog, or a cat.

Well at least you showed your son, as easy way to piss you off, and that you are unwilling to dicuss racial issues, which he surely doesn't understand yet.

Oh yea, since he only mastered colors a year or two ago, calling yourself black when you are actually brown is very confusing. This is one case where I actually think African - American helps, you can show map of world. And teach how people have come to America from all over the world so he will meet people who look different. But that we are all the basically the same.

One question, when you told him "I explained to my son that being Black is a wonderful thing and that we are a strong people". How did you explain why we are wonderful, and what makes us a strong, and what makes us a people.

I have been recently reading Martin Luther Kings speaches. One thing he warns about that in breaking white supremecy we don't go down the wrong path towards black supremecy.

I suspect you lied to you child and pretened it was truth. You should reevaluate what you actually said to him and bring up the topic again later. Because I don't see how you could have possibly been able to explain "that being Black is a wonderful thing and that we are a strong people" in any way understandable to a six year old.

At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You antics are old and tired. Saying "Black Is Beautiful", strong and wonderful has NOTHING to do with teaching or believing in "Black Supremacy". But then, again, as your post and your mental maturity post suggested some like you of such a young intellectual age wouldn't understand that.

It should go without saying that when faced with the idea that a Black child especially one raised in a positive Black enviroment where parents like Faheem not only show love and understanding but also do everything to instill pride and appreciation for "Black" people and "Black" history (notice his statement about "Black ART" in his home) that the natural response to the engrained and damn near automatic reaction to American society - i.e. Black self-hatred via the exaltation of the WHITE IS COOL mindset - is to say that "Black Is Beautiful or 'Cool' (Too)".

The fact that you could wonder or question (as if its impossible) how it was that FAHEEM could dare say something that would establish how African-Americans/Blacks are:
[1] A People;
[2] Strong; and
[3] Wonderful
... only goes to prove something about you and your mindset.

Either you take pleasure being an antagonistic contrarian or you really are a troubled individual when it comes to Black people. And to think that you would dare say that the contributors here have a "defeatist" attitude.

You just said, in essence, that we would be hard-pressed to describe "Black" people as wonderful, strong, etc. The logical conclusion to that amounts to exactly what FAHEEM son said - a six year old whom you yourself (by inference) declare as someone who can't possibly understand things (properly).

Obviously you too must think and equate WHITE with being "COOL".

If not, how about substaniating how you can declare FAHEEM's statements about "Black" being "wonderful" as being equivalent to that of "Black Supremacists" thought. The fact is, as always, YOU CAN'T!!

You make claims about stuff that you know you don't want to deal with logically. The honest and earnest thing for you to do would have simply been to suggest what you would do or say in such a situation.

But, instead of doing that, all you have is personal attack for FAHEEM.

It is no wonder why you jump to the same conclusion that Whites generally make when they hear so-called "Black Pride". They, like you, make the automatic (and inexplicable) conclusion that to speak of Black as "wonderful", etc. somehow means that White is less "wonderful" or aSSume that since such an equation is endemic to White Supremacy that any such "Black Speak" would be the exact opposite - i.e. Black Supremacy.

This speaks volumes of your Intransigent Ignorance. For a thing/person/etc. to oppose something else it doesn't necessarily have to be the functional opposite of the thing it is opposed to.

All "Black Pride" isn't equivalent to historical or even current "White Pride".

I know its hard for you. You think of everything is suppose to fit in some dichotomous box. But that, again, only goes to show how you mentality is closer to that of a six year old.

BTW, your MLK quote is of NO RELEVANCE and I challenge you to prove how it is. This is just another not-so-clever evasion of yours of the issue at hand. The question is:

The fact that you declined to offer your all-wise, firmly grounded perspective on what you would or have done really says a lot about you SCOTT. I find it hard to take issue with what FAHEEM said and would be at a lost to do anything different save probing as much as I could into what's behind and caused the question.

The question is what do you say to a Black child in 2004 when they come to the same conclusions Black children have for years in this country. Of course, YOU have no answers. So your post never attempted to explore any... I have come to expect that from you and, now, have to accept that as all you can do when tough issues arise.

-- Your Friend NMAGINATE

At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You guys are so figging hysterical. Did you also freak out the first time your son said he wanted to marry a boy friend instead of a girl friend. Or wanted to be a princess. Or a dog, or a cat." - SCOTT

Scott, your comments are beyond incredulous. How about dealing with what has been said instead of your usual "Reachin' For Sh!t" patented b@llshit!

Asking hypothetical questions in rhetorical refrain as if they are ones that are/were real, let alone relevant (or equivalent) shows your ineptitude and disingenuousness.

Please, Oh Great SCOTT show us where Faheem ever said that his son ever remarked that he wanted to marry a boy instead of a girl.

(YOUR BULLSH*T is effectively noted here.)

"I have been recently reading Martin Luther Kings speaches. One thing he warns about that in breaking white supremecy we don't go down the wrong path towards black supremecy." - SCOTT

How about detailing and substaniating exactly what constitutes "going down the wrong path of Black Supremacy" and how Faheem or anyone or anything on this blog shows established signs of such?

I'm waiting...

(YOUR BULLSH*T is effectively noted here as well.)

"That is not clear at all."

YOUR BULLSH*T is effectively noted here too. Again, you spent all your time/post attacking FAHEEM and never explained how what FAHEEM said and concluded was not clear.

Further, Faheem title-post clearly left it open for anyone to explain how his son could have come to such a conclusion or rather what would make him make such a statement. Faheem's post clearly suggested that he was open to reason beyond his own that would help explain why his son said what he did or to interpret the content of or motivation behind of his son said.

YOU failed to make any worthwhile contribution or even offer anything that would explain how Faheem was "wrong" or rash in his actual conclusion to the actual situation at hand.

Thank you, SCOTT, for your NON-CONTRIBUTION!

-- Your Friend NMAGINATE :)

At 3:09 PM, Blogger Scott said...

"Oh yea, since he only mastered colors a year or two ago, calling yourself black when you are actually brown is very confusing. This is one case where I actually think African - American helps, you can show map of world. And teach how people have come to America from all over the world so he will meet people who look different. But that we are all the basically the same."

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Scott said...

NMAGINATE - this is a profanity free blog, please try to follow the rules.

Oh yea, using the word logic again and again doesn't make you words logical.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Faheem said...

Looks like Nmaginate has said most of what I would have said in response to your foolishness Scott. Why is it so hard for you to believe Black men and women are a great and wonderful people. This can be proven with out a doubt but I understand how the hatred of self makes this hard for you to believe.

At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did you waste your time responding to my post?

Instead of dealing with real issues you obviously want to deal on NON-issues - i.e. the "profanity" in my posts.

That shows how you have nothing of substance to add to this discussion and proves everything I said. Further, no one told me that you were the Sgt. At Arms here and the Speech Regulator.

If you weren't so ridiculous with your off-the-point antics, I would have no reason to call your BS what it is - BULLSH*T!!

And... and... Oh YEAH!!!
Just because you say that my use of the word "logical", as often as I do, doesn't mean that what I say is "logical"... doesn't make your claim (and actually your inference) that I'm not being "logical" true.

As usual, more UNSUPPORTED and UNSUBSTANTIATED claims from you. Claims made with the hope that your statement alone (without proof or illustration to the contrary) is enough. Claims that I guess are suppose to be self-evident. To whom... I don't know.

You would be better served using your Bush League tactics on YOUR board where your Black's (and others) For Bush (League dialogue) has a PG-rated audience.
[PG = *P*re-school Grade-level intellect.]

SCOTT, your feable attempts to use child psychology by merely suggesting things - i.e. making claims w/o proof and/or illustrated supportive reasoning - is, as a say, SEE-THROUGH. Don't you ever think that all the pumping of yourself up - to convince yourself (not me) that my "logic" and reasoning is "wrong" - is ever something you can convince me of just by your mere frequency of 'suggesting'/claiming it.

You've got to come with something stronger than that SCOTT. And, as a little parting friendly advice, when responding to me... COME HARD (and thorough, etc.) OR DON'T COME AT ALL.


-- Your friend NMAGINATE :)


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