Tell me how to respond to colorism when another parent on the playground or at my child’s school chats me up to find out if I am my son’s babysitter. My son is blonde with grey-green eyes and white skin. My skin and eyes are dark chocolate and my hair is as black as coal. When I answer that my son is my son, they inevitably ask if he is adopted.
–JC, Brooklyn, NY
Color me surprised because one assumes that in 2016 a mature person would know better than to be nosy about another person’s coloring, called colorism. There are questions that simply aren’t asked. Once the parent has truly friended you, you can bring up the differences in your coloring.
Chances are, these parents are not going to want to engage in a tough conversation about tough issues. Clearly state that, “Timothy is my biological son,” and leave it at that.
According to spellcheck the word colorism doesn’t officially exist. Despite the fact that the Pulitzer Prize winning author and activist Alice Walker coined the word in her 1983 book, IN SEARCH OF OUR MOTHER’S GARDEN, to mean “prejudicial preferential treatment of same-race based solely on color.” Think of colorism as a stepchild of racism.
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Accepting A Compliment