I am pretty sure that Grace has noticed from time to time that she is the only brown skinned person around.
Around her preschool class,
around the local grocery store,
around her dance class,
around the local library,
around our house.
I know that we are supposed to try to find other families that resemble ours to hang out with.
I know that we need to be friends with people of different races.
I know that we are supposed to have connections with African American doctors, teachers, and leaders, but it is just not always possible in Northeast Wisconsin.
We are doing our best.
We are blessed to know friends that have adopted children from Ethiopia. We are neighbors with our beautiful little friend (and Goddaughter) from Guatemala. We see all kinds of families at church. There are (a few) kids in her Sunday school class that were also adopted. There are the occasional Green Bay Packer sightings around town, but...
The local school district's pupil services director told me (at kindergarten registration) that the district is becoming more "diverse." I believe he said we are at about eight percent. Yup, a whopping eight percent of the students in the district make up this "diversity."
We read tons of beautifully written children's books that describe differences, race, identity, different kinds of families, etc.
We have African artwork around the house.
We honor Grace's culture as much as we can.
I've showed Grace how we are all the same on the inside (with the brown and white egg experiment)...a great idea from a fellow blogger...she was a little excited by this,
But...it is still hard for the individual who is unique and different.
Grace can be quite the novelty around here.
All we have to do is take Grace to Alyssa's dance studio or dance team practice at the high school, and we can watch Alyssa's dance friends go crazy over her. She is different. She is cute. She has cool hair.
She doesn't always like the attention. I have seen the self confident, spunky, outgoing little girl we know, turn into a quiet, shy, uncommunicative little stranger.
She just wants to fit in sometimes.
(By the way, I often point out to people that Grace is as SMART as she is cute-let's not forget her other amazing qualities)
It breaks my heart when she says something about wanting straight blond hair or light skin.
A teenage girl from California did a youtube video to show how makeup can transform her severely acne prone skin into model-like perfection using make up. Her make up totally changes the look of her skin.
So when Grace and I were watching this video on youtube (I know, not the most impressive way to spend a morning at home...but hey, she was featured on The Today Show and I was intrigued), it broke my heart when Grace said..."maybe I could use make up like that to cover up my brown skin..."
We always tell her how beautiful her skin is. She has the most beautiful complexion! It seems like we talk about her skin almost every time she watches me do my makeup. She is always told she needs to protect her pretty skin when she puts on sunscreen.
I am not sure the message is sinking in to Grace...YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and were PERFECTLY created exactly the way God intended for you to look. You were BLESSED with your curly hair and smooth, dark skin.
It is still hard. She will struggle. So will we. We will continue to compliment her and remind her of her beauty. We will continue to seek out friends of all colors and we will never stop telling her how amazing she is inside and out.
I just wish it was easier for Grace to see her beauty and not just that she is "cute" because she is different.
(check it out...it's a little long, but I am very impressed with this young girl and how she was willing to bare it all to show other young girls how she copes with her severe acne situation)