My daughter asks me why her skin is brown and mine is white. She wants to know if my skin is better or if hers is better. I fumble with “our skin is equally good,” knowing that I am inadvertently reinforcing a harmful nod to color blindness.
I start over.
I tell her that the same day that she was born Simone Biles was winning more medals than any gymnast ever imagined. I tell her that today gymnastics is outlawing Simone’s moves because she’s superior to any other gymnast. I tell her about the unapologetic Nina Simone. I tell her the month she was born Simone Manual was setting records at the Olympics as well. I tell her that the Obamas gave people hope, as does Kamala Harris.
She already knows the stories of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and Rosa Parks. I tell her about all of the little black children in Oklahoma City who sat in restaurants day after day asking politely to be served. I tell her that their persistence, even when they had to stand when the white people took their chairs away from their tables, led to the integration of those restaurants.
Through mist in my eyes, and with only so many details, I tell my little one about Darnisha Harris, fatally shot at 16 and Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, struck in her own home as she slept, by the people who were supposed to protect and serve them.
I tell her that her brown skin comes from her birth mommy who trusted me enough to adopt her. I remind her that she shares a culture with her auntie Shaunte who she loves.
My daughter is four. She sees the good in people and in life that I am blind to without her eyes. “I’m happy I have brown skin, Mommy,” she says as she goes back to playing with her hot wheels.
When the little boy on the playground with a truck says he doesn’t play with kids who are dirty. When the other little girl’s grandmother whispers to me that I should be happy that Evelyn doesn’t look Black.
When the cashier at the grocery store tells me my daughter is so lucky that someone “like me” would want to adopt her. I want nothing more than to dismantle the white supremacy that would ever make my daughter question the value of her brown skin.
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CLS Sandoval, PhD (she/her) is a pushcart nominated writer and communication professor with accolades in film, academia, and creative writing who speaks, signs, acts, publishes, sings, performs, writes, paints, teaches and rarely relaxes. She’s a flash fiction and poetry editor for Dark Onus Lit. She has presented over 50 times at communication conferences, published 15 academic articles, two academic books, three full-length literary collections, three chapbooks, as well as flash and poetry pieces in several literary journals, recently including Opiate Magazine, The Journal of Magical Wonder, and A Moon of One’s Own. She is raising her daughter and dog with her husband in Alhambra, CA.