Brown is my favorite color – Because I Am Brown
As these words tumbled out of my then-3 year old, I felt my maternal instincts jump into overdrive. I wanted to launch into a series of interrogative questions to know who or what had made my son aware of his color at his age. I was ready to defend and draw blood –I wanted to make him “unaware” of his “brownness”.
On reflection, I suspect this reaction was a result of my own struggles as a “dark skinned” Indian. Growing up in India at a time where beauty was to a large extent defined by “fairness” of the skin color, I had struggled to come to terms with my “Darkness”.
I distinctly remember being teased by kids in the class, being called “darkie”, crying in nights, standing in front of mirror and wondering why I wasn’t more appealing to the eye. Those years were painful and I wince even today as I look back at them.
As I grew older I learned to ignore the jibes and stand up for myself. My mom constantly patched up my stunted self-esteem, pushed me to look beyond and taught me to stand tall. Yet, I constantly fought confidence battles within myself.
Eventually, it was only when I came to America that I finally let go and choose to no longer have my color define me.
However, that day as my 3 year old proclaimed “Brown” to be his favorite color, I realized I still carried those invisible scars. My first instinct to take him away to a land that was “skin colorblind” resonated deeply with my journey towards coming in terms with being a “dark skinned Indian“.
As this realization dawned, I drew a deep breath, and looked rather nonchalantly at my lil’ guy and said “That is wonderful! I love brown too”. The rewarding joy-filled smile that I received confirmed that I had said the right thing!
Today, he is 5 years old and brown continues to be his favorite color. Being brown is just a part of who he is and he loves the fact!
I am sure as in years to come there will be other such incidents, definitely some more challenging than others, but it is my greatest hope that I help my sons grows up to be “aware yet unaware of color”