The black and white leggings that said it all

A couple of Decembers ago, my daughter was in Old Navy with my mom. They were picking out outfits for my then three-year old and her little friend. My mom is the bravest woman that I know for taking my child into a store where sequined skirts and colorful dresses hang within her grasp. My little human LOVES to shop and her non-existent inside voice grows even louder when she pulls clothes off of hangers and insists that it all fits.

They found cute outfits, and my mom asked her what color leggings she thought would match best. She weighed her choices carefully, and finally informed my mom that they should get the white leggings for her, because they “match me” and the black leggings for her friend, because they “match her.” My daughter is white and blonde, and her friend is brown and black. They came home with the cute outfits, but no leggings.  As my mom recounted the story to me later, we both laughed at her logic, but I remember being distinctly uncomfortable with her unabashed acknowledgment of color.

How many times have we heard it said that children are so innocent that they can’t see color?

I realize now how wrong that is.

Children see color. They should see color. We all should be okay with seeing color.  What children don’t see, and what we should not be okay with, is the inequality that has been assigned to color.

I’ve been on a journey this year. It’s a journey that I will be on for the rest of my life.

It’s a journey that has transformed my understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It’s a journey that has led me to listen to and learn from people of color who speak out about racial injustice.

It’s a journey that forced me to confront the possibility that even though I was raised to believe that all are equal, I could still harbor biases that I am unaware of. This Ted Talk that we watched as a faculty at the high school where I teach is eye opening.

It’s a journey that forces me to confront and shed my own white defensiveness and examine my own white privilege.

It’s a journey that prevents me from closing my eyes to the racism and inequality that plagues our country.

It’s a journey that is leading me to teach my daughter NOT that we shouldn’t see color, but that we should. We should see it and we should embrace it. We should speak up for it. We should stand with it. We should talk about it. We should make room for it. Empowering others does not rob someone else of their rights, it strengthens us all.