I got the inbox message a few days ago. An author friend reached out, saying she had a “strange situation/question.” Her five-year-old daughter had had a sleepover with cousins, and there was another five-year-old cousin there with whom she wasn’t familiar—an adopted black girl. When my friend asked how it went, she got this response:
“I don’t like her, Mommy. I don’t like anyone with black skin.”
My friend wanted to weep. She had worked to instill a love for all people in her daughter, and I certainly knew my friend to have that spirit. In her words, “I have zero idea where this came from but the pit itself.”
My friend tried to reason with her, starting with their cats—one black, the other white/gray. Was one better than the other? “They’re both perfect, Momma!” So she asked why it was a great thing for God to bring beauty in color for kitties and not people. Her daughter replied, “They’re cats, Momma. They’re supposed to be different.”
My friend was desperate at this point, praying for wisdom. She asked, “So if God created people to look different and be different colors, why would you not like someone who isn’t just like you?”
The little girl’s face fell. She got quiet. Then she said:
“Momma, I’m just not around people with dark skin. Ever. So I don’t understand.”
My friend acknowledged that this was true, as they live in an area of the country with few black people. So she took her daughter to my Facebook page, showed her my pictures, told her we were friends, and tried to explain the value in that. Her daughter replied, “Mommy, maybe Kim could explain it.”
And that was my friend’s request, that I record a video to her daughter explaining, in essence, the value of people of all skin colors.
It wasn’t an easy task. I had to pray. How do you take a complex issue like race, one that many adults would rather avoid, and make it simple and straightforward enough for a five-year-old to understand?
This morning I sent my friend the little video I’d recorded on my phone. I told her the message sounded so basic, but I was praying that God would use it.
Then later, I realized something. When it comes to the complexities of race, historical prejudices that bleed into present day, and an enemy who thrives on racial division—sometimes you have to go back to the basics.
And basic truth is truth no matter the age.
I’ve embedded the video below, edited for the blog to delete her name. I also told her at the end that I would love to meet her, and I mentioned her location, which has also been deleted.
Late this afternoon, my friend sent a short recorded video of her daughter. At the end, her daughter said this:
“Even though you have black skin, God created you. I love you. Amen.” She giggled, and added, “I mean, bye bye.”
Tears welled in my eyes. My friend told me she smiled bigger and bigger as she watched, and shooed her brothers out of the room so she could listen. She wants to meet me too. My heart swelled with thanksgiving to God.
I share all of this with my friend’s permission. We both felt there might be other kids out there like her daughter. Perhaps they could listen too. And maybe even some adults. Because sometimes, five-year-old girls grow into thirty-year-old women who aren’t around people with dark skin. Ever. Perhaps they too could benefit from truth even a child can understand.
Yes, sometimes all you need are the basics. And a conversation. And a God who created and loves us all.