My 5-year-old has never really had much of an issue with his color. He is aware that he is brown or black and that people come in different shades. This year is his first year in an American school which also makes it his first year learning black history in school. We have had quite a few corrective conversations during this entire month. I do realize that at his age children take what they want from the teachings but the downside of that is in our case a very hyperaware sense of color. I don’t think he really understands race so much as color. So him everyone is grouped by color you are either brown or black or white.
On Tuesday night after his bath he decided that he wanted to be superman and instructed me to refer to him as such. I told him no problem at all. He asked if I could tell his friends to call him superman and I told him that he could ask but if they decided not to that he could still be superman at home. He then said that he couldn’t be superman because he was black. He said “Don’t you see mom, I’m black, superman is not black. I can’t be superman.” I told him that he absolutely could be but he was convinced, that he could not be. If he can’t be superman, he cannot be batman, spiderman, thor, iron man or any of the big superheros. He asked me which superheros were black like him and I told him he could be Frozone from the Incredibles and that’s all I could come up with! He gave me a kiss and said “Mom, I think I would just like to be Cyborg because he has guns, but not real guns, just fake ones that shoot bad guys”. I told him that was an excellent choice Cyborg doesn’t use guns. We agreed and moved on with our night.
I couldn’t help but to still feel a bit down knowing that my little bear felt that he couldn’t be his favorite superheros. I’ve always recognized the need for positive images of color for little girls but I never really thought of how it effected boys. There are hispanic, black, and asian Disney characters, dolls, books, ect. but not many of the like for boys and there probably should be:(