Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Dollhouse...

All this talk about racial profiling, racism, black and white triggered a sweet memory for me that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. When my younger daughter was two, she attended a preschool where she played and learned with children of all races and nationalities. A little over a year later, when Christmas rolled around, we were making our lists and she asked for a dollhouse. A nice big doll house! I never wanted to disappoint my children at Christmas and her request was not going unfulfilled. 

The unusual thing about my daughter’s request was that she specifically asked for a black family for her dollhouse. At first, I was a little surprised by it because I guess I came to think that most children would want a family that looked like their own, in our case white. So I asked her again, to make sure I understood that she wanted a black family for her dollhouse. She not only confirmed what she said, but insisted on it. Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it except that of the friends she had made at school, she must have been closest to those who were black. 

I told my husband about her Christmas list and how she insisted she wanted a black family. We decided if that is what she wanted, that is what she was going to get. It was obvious to me she would have been very disappointed with a white family and I wasn’t going to do that by going against her wishes. Instead, I decided to get her both a black and a white family for her dollhouse. The house was big enough for both families to live there happily enjoying all the new furniture that cost us a small fortune.

My daughter was thrilled with her new dollhouse and her black family. She even was receptive to the white family moving in with them. She played with that doll house for hours every day. The black and white children played together. The moms cooked together. The fathers left for work together. They all watched television together. One big black and white family.

It was a brilliant idea that my baby girl had to insist on getting a black family. And I think it was a pretty good idea that I also got the white family. In playing with her dollhouse families, my daughter learned that there was no difference between the two families, except color. Maybe psychologists should study the effects of giving very young children dolls that are both black and white to play with. Children aren’t born racist, they are taught to be racist. Maybe if they start out as babies, playing with and nurturing baby dolls of other races, they might learn something from that and look beyond color when they are older? There is no reason that white little girls should play only with white dolls. I probably wouldn’t have thought of that if not for my daughter. I probably would have gone the traditional route and just gotten her the white family.

My daughter taught me something that Christmas that I will never forget. She didn’t just look beyond the color of a person’s skin, no, she looked beyond color and also embraced it. At three years old, her heart and mind were open and she knew intuitively that all people were the same. It wasn’t a matter of tolerance or acceptance, which are often referred to as the opposite of racism, and mean you recognize a “difference” and you are willing to accept it. My daughter didn’t see a “difference” and, if she was aware of a difference, she embraced it willingly and lovingly.

Maybe all children are born with an open heart, like my daughter, and just need a dollhouse and a black and white family to live in it in harmony? 

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