Tag Archives: brick lane

Black and white and pink and sparkly

5 Mar

Until a couple of years ago I lived on London’s Brick Lane – an area that the term ‘melting pot’ could have been invented for. After living there for ten years we moved to St Albans to be closer to work and family. I remember walking around in the first week thinking that something was odd. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then it dawned on me – everyone was so WHITE. I found it unnerving. A bit like I’d moved somewhere that had yet to catch up with the rest of the country. What worried me most of all was that I’d be bringing up my children somewhere where they might only learn about different cultures and religions from books.

Three years into Snorbens life and thankfully those early impressions have proved exaggerated. It’s not Brick Lane but it’s hardly Midsomer (no John Nettles certainly) or Norfolk (ahem, no offence intended – I did live in Norwich for three years so feel somewhat qualified …). I was relieved to find that my daughter’s nursery wasn’t solely full of little white, middle-class faces (again, no offence intended for I fit that social bill). Great, I thought, she’ll grow up knowing and, most importantly, accepting that everyone is different.

Now here’s the rub. Yesterday, whilst looking at a picture of the whole cast of Disney princesses, my 3-year-old daughter announced that she likes all the princesses except Tiana (The Princess and the Frog for all you Disney luddites). And why doesn’t she like Tiana? Because “she is dark”. Because “she is different to the other princesses”. Gulp. Trying to explain that everyone is different is tough when a child knows no better than to base their likes and dislikes on such things as colour or quantity of sparkles. In her eyes a pink princess is better than a brown one. Fact. She doesn’t mean anything by it. It doesn’t make her racist. But her comments still made me quake in my parenting boots.

I’ll be doing my best to bring up my children so that they know better than to treat people differently because of creed or colour. As for the immediate future, if my daughter repeats her comment I hope that it will be taken for the little girl’s simplistic analysis of the world that it is and not for anything more sinister.

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