I was 40 when I learned I wasn’t white

That’s right, I’m not white.  I’m yellow.  I’d always thought I was white; but shortly after my youngest child started kindergarten, he told me I was yellow. I believe him. Five year old children are exceeding truthful.

The cause for his announcement – I’m white, mama, I’m white. My teacher is brown, all the people at day care are brown, my doctor is brown.  You’re yellow, mama; but, I’m white – is that he had the best pediatrician I could find and the safest day care of any I knew with the best food in town; and, just as he said, he was white and all the others were brown.  When he found himself in the kindergarten class with the “brown” teacher, he reasoned that I somehow hadn’t noticed he was white.

Carl Rove made a comment tonight about our “color blind” younger generation.  My experience tells me otherwise –  but, the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say, is that the younger generation is more accepting of others as they are, including those of us who are various shades of “yellow”.

My son’s concern was that I hadn’t noticed his color.  It wasn’t about them but him and the attention he wanted from his mother.

I offer this bit of personal history as a way of pointing out that we elected a President who just happens to be black, or brown as my child would point out.  Rather than explain more, I’m going to borrow the words of someone who said it better:

Even as he became the first black president, Obama transcended race. His earliest support did not come from the black community, but from upper middle class Americans of all races, who were charmed by his intelligence and thoughtfulness and anxious to find a new political leader in the new century. Obama campaigned on economics, foreign policy, health care, and jobs. He rarely spoke of inequality or civil rights, not because he is not concerned about them, but because he understood that they were not the central issues of the election. Furthermore, he understood and inequality in health care and jobs opportunity cannot be overcome until we all have health care and the economy is no longer in free fall. Thus, Obama campaigned on issues that affect all Americans, without regard to race, geography, or class.

Indeed, in the end Obama is not America`s first black president — he is America`s first president who happens to be black. The difference is huge.

That we learn from our children, as well as teach, is a given. What I learned from my son with all the Irish genes in our family was white is simply a different color from brown – and that he didn’t have a yellow mother but a mother who was yellow.

I offer that lesson and these readings for your thoughtful consideration:

Transcript of McCain’s Concession Speech

Transcript of Obama’s Victory Speech

3 thoughts on “I was 40 when I learned I wasn’t white”

  1. That’s sweet.
    The funniest thing (of late, they keep changing:) that I heard during the campaign was whether the infamous “Bradley” effect would happen to Obama himself in the voting booth —when actually confronted with the reality of voting for an actual African American: HIMSELF! Considering his mother came from Nebraska and his father from Kenya…
    I mean, Mxz Dousi, does it get any better than this?
    You can’t make this stuff up!
    I kinda wish they had dropped the voting age for this one to about 5. (Just make sure they all learn how to spell landslided:)

  2. My four year old (who has just turned five) described getting into some trouble with a friend of his named Douglas at pre-kindergarten. I asked him which one was Douglas. I was confusing the issue by confusing him with another of his little friends Donovan, whom I had met.

    “No Daddy, Douglas wears blue socks and Donovan where’s white socks”. Beyond that he could not think of a meaningful way to separate the two.

    Later I was looking at classroom pictures, and released that Douglas was African-American, and Donavon is blond hair-blue eyed.

    In his mind the big distinguishing feature is whether someone is a boy or girl, followed by what color of socks they wear.

    Of course he also seems to think that people get taller as you get closer to them, but that is another issue.

  3. Oh that is priceless! They really don’t know until we show it too them –in excruciatingly grave detail at that!
    That settles it, we should let them vote in little’bitty voting booths that actually record their vote.
    Wouldn’t that be fun?
    See who won the toddler vote, the pre-K Street Crowd, the Birthday Party, the Potty Lobby…
    STOP!!! Yaaaaaahahahaha!!!

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