A Conversation About Racism

Children's Author Camryn Wells

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Hello Writers!

Today I’m having a conversation about racism with children’s author Camryn Wells.

Since the death of George Floyd I’ve been among the many people trying to learn more about race and racism, and vowing to do better. 

It’s been eye opening for me. Also embarrassing. 

How is there so much that I didn’t know? 

For weeks I stayed mostly silent, to listen and to learn what I could.

But I had questions. 

I was nervous to ask my questions though. Having recently realized the extent of my ignorance, I was equal parts ashamed, embarrassed and scared to ask them out loud. 

Luckily I have patient and wonderful friends, who are also authors!

One of them was generous enough to chat with me on the podcast, so that you can learn along with me. 

Camryn Wells – author of The Color, Feel, Play series’ – and I had a truly helpful conversation and she was full of sage wisdom I am happy to share.

Author Camryn Wells-conversation about racism
Understanding emotions isn’t just tricky for kids!

Some points that stood out in our conversation:

The intention behind the words mean more than the words themselves I worry about using the ‘wrong’ words. Should I say ‘black author’? Why can’t I just say ‘author’? Besides learning how deep my white privilege is, I also learned that being black is a fact, and there’s nothing wrong with saying it, provided the intention behind it is good.

Black parents don’t get to shield their children from the conversation They have to have the difficult conversation with their kids at an early age, for their safety. White parents shouldn’t shield their kids from the conversation just because it’s uncomfortable. Find a way that works and talk about it! Talking about racism isn’t a box to be checked, it’s a conversation that needs to be had again and again.

Don’t touch anyone else’s hair!  It’s inappropriate, not to mention weird. Don’t do it.  (My words, not hers. But why would people do this?!)

We will mess it up Some of us (me) are having these conversations for near to the first time. Accept that we will misstep, accept that we will make mistakes. Know also that we will learn from these mistakes, we will grow and do better the next time. 

I will be taking Camryn’s words to heart, and be okay with making mistakes as I grow through life. (her words, not mine) 

I hope you will too! Enjoy our conversation about racism. Please post any questions or comments below!

Want to get to know Camryn better?

What Color Is Your Day? book cover - conversation about racism
Understanding emotions is tricky!

Camryn Wells_June 18, 2020

Laurie: [00:00:00] Hi  Cameron. 

Camryn: [00:00:03] Hi Laurie. 

Laurie: [00:00:04] Thank you so much for coming on here with me today. 

Camryn: [00:00:08] Of course. Thanks for having me. 

Laurie: [00:00:11] Oh gosh. No, thank you really, really. Thank you. 

So today we’re going to talk a little bit about race racism, how it relates to children’s authors, children, literature rules. When I first, you know, everything hit the fan, I guess, for us white folks, anyway, it was like, what do I do?

What do I say? Where do I go? Who can I talk to about this since I’m so thankful to you because you’re a trusted friend to me. And hopefully the listeners will come to feel like that about you as well. And, and you know, we have questions. 

Camryn: [00:00:45] Yeah. 

Laurie: [00:00:47] Uncomfortable questions. So like you and uncomfortable conversation and, and, what I’m hoping to provide for listeners and for myself, I’ll be honest.

I’m selfish. I just want to know, I want to know what I can do. I want to know what I should say. I want to know what’s OK. Cause so much of it feels. Not okay. And then, and then we’ll see where the conversation goes. 

Camryn: Yeah, that sounds good.

Let’s start at the basics. 

Like for me, it’s uncomfortable even now talking black author, white, is this the language I should be using? Do I need to use it? What’s your take. 

Camryn: [00:01:32] So, let me answer your question by asking you a question. Why is an uncomfortable? 

Laurie: [00:01:40] Well, that’s a good question… 

Camryn: [00:01:44] because, and I asked that because it’s not uncomfortable for me, so I can’t answer that for you.

Why is that uncomfortable for you? 

Laurie: [00:01:53] I guess for so long, it’s like, what do I say? What’s okay to say what’s PC. Right? So here in Canada we have, an Indigenous population, you know, horrible racism happens towards them. And over in my lifetime, we’ve had different words, right. And now it’s indigenous, but you know, when you grow up saying other words, I guess I started feeling like, I’m not sure what to say anymore.

So I’d rather say nothing rather say author, I’d rather say ‘ people’. so I guess that’s where it comes from, from me. Maybe the fear, like, am I saying it right? Or am I saying it wrong? I think maybe it’s fear.

Camryn: [00:02:44] There is no to me, you know, and I think it’s important to say, I obviously don’t speak for all black people. Right. people feel comfortable with, and within the black community with different, ways of being addressed, right? So some people prefer African-American, some people prefer black and American.

Some people prefer black, you know, I don’t think there’s a wrong, I think that there is, there can be a malicious intention behind the way you say it. I I’ve always been, I can’t put my finger on what it is, but it’s like the, how people say it. I feel like there should be a level of respect with.

The freedom in which you throw it around.

Right? So like for example, I just had somebody, talk to me and it was just the way he was saying it was like, it was too casual almost. And I know that’s like kind of a gray area, but you know, the way he was kind of saying it was like, like, yeah. You know, and then these black individuals, you know, and I’m like, I don’t know why.

It didn’t sit well. Right? It’s like the way it’s like, if you’re saying something with it, maybe it was cause he, he was saying it like he was talking negatively and then the way he said it was kind of this like flippant and just like in these black people, you know, and I’m like, well, don’t put a negative spin on it.

Like, you know, when you’re saying something that’s, that’s, you know, insensitive, right. So I wouldn’t necessarily tip toe around. There’s nothing saying that somebody is black is not a bad word. Right. That’s a fact. Right. And so, I would empower, you know, yourself to make that comfortable on the tongue, you know, and this is also what I tell my, my white friends and family.

Like we, as black people, we don’t shy away from it. You know what I mean? so again, it’s not a dirty word. 

I think it depends on if it will uplift the story.

That me being black would highlight that story. I think it’s important to mention. I think the reason that’s important to mention also is because, as black people we have, we have had to make a lifetime, generationally, right? Of finding and embracing and grabbing on to opportunities. And so when we knock that everyone else doesn’t, but like we can’t even compare the two, right?

Yes. we have, we have at least here, you know, in, the U S we have systems that. Intentionally or unintentionally, I’m going to say intentionally, but were built to keep black people down. And so when a black person has found a way to rise above that, right? it is worth mentioning. That’s why I, I think black people make sure to say things like that because you know, whatever happened, that was a black person that did that.

That’s for the black community to recognize and, and empower and, you know, be excited about, and that’s for white people to hear that like black people are doing things we want to be considered for things we want to be, you know, we want you to see us. Not just for our skin. Right. But, and not, I mean, this goes, man, this is just such a serious conversation.

Because even, even just on paper, we could have the same credentials as somebody, but our name will get us turned away. If our name sounds off putting to you, our resume will not even be considered. And I think it’s, I think it’s one of those things where. People just the starting point is just first acknowledging, right.

That there’s a chance somewhere that you probably did that.

Right. And nobody’s, nobody’s saying, I need you to go announce this to the world and I need you to go tell every black person that, you know, it’s nothing like that. It’s just you can’t. Yeah. It’s just, you know, it’s just, well, I mean, honestly that takes it to another level because, White fragility.

Have you heard that phrase?  Yeah. I mean, that really is a thing. you know, it’s kind of this place where when white people get this AH HAH moment, like, Oh my gosh, like, this is a thing, right. And we’re like, I know like welcome. Right. But then it’s this place where, white people want to talk about how it makes them feel or…

…or if we’re expressing something, you know, that is uncomfortable for a white person, that they can get defensive. Right. And we’re somehow the attacker and it’s like, no, that’s not, you’re missing the whole point.  I think it just has to be, you have to be uncomfortable in order to grow. You just do you have to, you have to be okay with misstepping right.

You can’t get to the place of growth just by having a black person tell you what to say or how to do it. You have to sometimes say it wrong. And. Step in a little pile of something and be like, ‘okay, totally missed that one’. Right. But that’s how you learn, you know? And I think, you know, the difference also is the majority of people, I truly do believe this majority of white people are not malicious in their intentions.

 I remember when I was growing up, it was really a thing and I have so many friends it’d be like…

Oh, I just, I don’t see color.

And that’s a thing now, like, you know, you raise your kids, not to see color and black people. We want you to see color. You have to see us as black, right.

Because that is the only way that you can understand on any level. Like what we’re trying to tell you, we go through our black experience. If you don’t see us as black, then you can’t hear us. Right? Yeah. So you have to see us as black and you have to, you have to embrace the differences, right? It’s not, it’s not something like, I don’t want to see black because I see everyone the same.

Everyone is not the same. Right. So don’t, you can’t lie to yourself about that. You know, I think that’s a very, good starting point with children. You know, I think it’s a safe place to say, listen, everyone is not equal here. And what we can do as a family is we can try to work towards equality. How do we do that?

Right. And you go through those steps of learning. What a, what a child can do. You can teach them how to. Identify these micro aggressions and micro racisms that are things that society has because black people have not learned to silence ourselves when we have these micro aggressions towards us.

Right. Because if we say something, then we are the angry black woman, or we are, you know, the angry black man or whatever it is. Right. So we usually just don’t. But it seems like my entire life I’ve gotten things like you, you talk really well for a black woman. Right. And I’m like, okay, like, right, right.

But it literally, I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened. And if you ask, if you ask black people, we get comments like that all the time, or this. Another one is like hair, for some reason, people think it’s okay to walk up and just like, touch your hair or touch your children’s hair. And it’s like, we’re not at all.

Society has taught them that that’s acceptable.

Right. And that there’s. And if we were such a minority of saying something that if, and when we say something, we’re off putting. Right. So what we’re starting, what we’re starting to see now is I think people are noticing those microaggressions.

Like what I just told you. Right. maybe two months ago and wouldn’t have even really maybe registered, right? Like if someone said, do you care when you talk? Or somebody said to me, Cameron, you have really well, right. You wouldn’t have even thought anything. You’d have been like, Oh yeah, she does. Right.

There’s what they’re saying though, is what now? Yeah. Now your eyes being open right now, you’ll hear the micro aggression and micro racism behind it. And again, it’s not coming from a malicious place. It’s coming from an, it’s coming from a, a taught place. Like they were just taught that this is. 

Laurie: [00:11:25] You cut out.

Camryn: [00:11:27] Sorry. 

Laurie: [00:11:27] Right. 

Camryn: [00:11:28] You’ve been taught that you can say that and it’s, and it’s not something there’s nothing wrong in it. Right. And so what we’re seeing now is people really getting in that uncomfortable  space. Right. Those are the ones that I think as a society we’re going to have to move through.

I think we can all agree at this point …

that if we see overt racism, right, somebody’s using a racial slur or, you know, I think everyone at this point would jump up and say something, right? Those aren’t the ones that we have to fight again. The ones that we have to fight against are those small ones, the ones that we have to fight against, or if somebody, again, looking at a resume and going, I can’t pronounce that name.

What does that mean? And, and like, don’t worry about the name, look at the credentials. Right, right. yeah. And, and like, you just have to, there’s going to be a place where you have to be the first one to say something there’s going to have to be a place where you’re in a group that you’ve been with. A million times over and now you’re hearing things that are not okay.

And it’s going to have to be a first time where you say something.

Laurie: [00:12:40] Possibly awkwardly and wrong. But yeah. So, first of all, I apologize asking you what I should say and how I should be doing, having white fragility myself. But it’s all part of the learning. And I, I wanted to repeat, because I think it’s worth repeating.

Like what we can do as a family is not teach ‘I see no color’. Everybody’s saying it’s to teach, ‘we are not the same, but what can we do to make steps towards that as a family, as children, the parent’s. So thank you for that. That helps. and it is kind of uncomfortable and I find myself just feeling so worried to say the wrong thing.

So I’m really thankful that you, you put it like that. 

Camryn: [00:13:35] Where I really have tried to tell people to empower themselves is again, Your heart is not malicious. Right? And so while you meant you might miss step, You’re gonna , you’re on the right track, right. It is a very you’re welcome.

And I really do mean that, you know, it’s a very steep learning curve is this anti racism and this, you know, really under, you have to almost unlearn everything that you have been taught. Right. And you have to find what has been omitted. You have to relearn history from a black perspective. I mean, there’s a lot that’s happening right now.

So, you know, I don’t think any black person is like ready to jump on a white person because of a misstep. Right. I think if anything, we’re ready to have a conversation, right. I think the, the, not anger, but the. I don’t know what the word is. I think where we would get frustrated is what I’m trying to say is if we have these conversations and then somehow you’re still not doing it’s the doing right.

I have a lot of people who are calling and, and, you know, checking in and believe me, that goes far. Like, I need that right now. Right. But, what’s really hitting home for me are the people who are doing the people. And I’m not just talking like going out and protest there’s many lanes of activism. Right.

But it’s having these conversations with their children.

Right. I think a lot of people would be surprised if they just ask their children like. Either. Have you ever experienced something that was racist or have you ever been around, you know, some, someone who was told something that you felt uncomfortable if you have those conversations?

I think  white people are uncomfortable with like, It’s like,  if my child doesn’t know about it, right? Like I don’t want to introduce them to these things. And the only thing I can say to that is that, black parents, we have to do that early on. We just do, we have to let our kids know early on.

This is the way that the world sees you. Right? And this is how you stay in line. This is how you stay in line. This is how you stay alive. So if we have to have those brutal conversations from a young age, All we can ask of you is like, just to open that door.  give your children, the respect that they deserve, they are growing intelligent beings, and the way that we ensure that they meet this expectation that we have, I was, you know, being kind and being, we want all that, but there’s work and there’s a psychology behind it that has to be put into place. We have to show them how to do that. We have to, you know, a child can understand yeah. Very young fairness.

Right? So you can say to a child, if your teacher gave one student a box of brand new shiny crayons, right. Unopened, you know, they’re just crisp. And then they gave another student broken pieces, right. Papers unrolled off of them. And they were asked to draw, you know, a picture, one child is going to feel the difference.

It’s like, why didn’t I get the shiny new that’s called fairness, right? Yes. So a child can understand that, you know, we don’t have to break it down to them necessarily. Like when you have a black person and you have a white person, right. That’s where the conversation leads. You know, you don’t shy away from it, but –

This is also not just a one off conversation.

It’s not just like, okay. Talk to my children about race. We’re good for the next 18 years. Right. 

Laurie: [00:17:35] Box checked. 

Camryn: [00:17:36] Right? Like it’s an ongoing conversation. And I think the other thing, something that you said starting on is, is very important and it’s powerful that it’s okay to say you don’t know. Right. Your child might ask you something like, why are black people treated, you know, differently?

And you don’t have to guess, right. That’s what they’re giving you is homework. And so, right. And so this is how we grow as a family. It’s okay to say, you know, I don’t, I don’t really know. But I’m going to come back to you on that and you write it down and you go do your homework and then you figure out a way that your child would understand that message, you know?

Yeah. I just, I really think, you know, I just think it’s important too, to empower them. 

Laurie: [00:18:24] I agree. I watched a video from 1968 floating on Facebook. Have you seen this?  It’s a school teacher who is trying to talk to the kids about racism in 1968. 

And  so says, okay, we’re going to do this experiment today.

“There’s blue light people and there’s Brown eyed people. And I have blue eyes and so blue eyed people are better.” 

Camryn: [00:18:47] Huh. 

Laurie: [00:18:47] And she said within 15 minutes, There was a huge difference. Just like what you said with the crayons, you know, their work effort, the relationship suffered. and it was like, cause you see it right there, you know, the five minute video, it was just crazy and sad and like that’s actually happening though, 

Camryn: [00:19:07] but yeah.

Laurie: [00:19:08] But, 

Camryn: [00:19:09] yeah, 

Laurie: [00:19:10] and it’s a nice, maybe a good way for, for people to. Tell it to their kids to share with their kids, if they’re not comfortable, or if they feel like you said you don’t want to do black person versus white person, maybe you want to start the conversation in a different way. 

Camryn: [00:19:25] Well, and I, you know, I think the other thing is right now, black lives are the focal point, right?

We’ve been waiting for this break.

We needed it. Yes. But my hope is that, the lessons that we’re learning and the changes that we’re able to make, that this is just a benchmark for humanity that we’re able to, because there are so many people that are wrong in this world right now that we are able to, feel empowered and have tools only work.

You know, I think people would be. Wrong in thinking, well, if we, if we miss step or something, doesn’t work, we failed. That is absolutely wrong. Right. Change takes so long. And it’s so boring when you’re in it. You don’t see it. Right. But in order to see like systematic changes, five, 10 years, right. This isn’t just getting somebody out of office and putting someone else in office.

It’s a good, it’s a great start, but there are longer, bigger, pieces that have to go into it in order to make a school more diverse: you have to first get people.

That aren’t all one homogenous type, right? You have to, you have to go outside of that community and you have to bring in other people, you have to recruit other people into neighborhoods so that you can diversify neighborhoods.

So that now you have, that’s one of the reasons we moved, where we moved, right? I mean, I have a, my husband is Asian. I’m black. And we’re like, okay, where do we find this? Right. And we found it. I mean, it was like, I think it’s something like 12% Asian here, which is high for Texas for one, you know, but it was like, it just had diversity.

It has Indian people, it has Asian people, black people, white people. I mean, it’s all over. And we see it with like my son’s school in his class. It is all over the globe and we’re like, that’s awesome. Right. Okay. Yeah. But I’m not going to also shy away when, when, you know, Monroe will ask me, why does, you know, such and such have an accent, you know?

And I’m like, Oh, okay. That’s a good question. Right. And you talk to them about it. Or, you know, we actually have the situation. One of his teachers had a very thick accent and he had a hard time understanding her. And I said, okay, We need to talk about that, right? Because this is your teacher, she’s a human.

So let’s talk about, what do you have trouble hearing? Have you asked her to slow down? Can you say, can you repeat yourself? Right. I think the same thing goes, I just saw something the other day that made so much sense with the deaf community. Right. People have a tendency that when they say something and they realize that the person is deaf, they have a tendency to go, Oh, nevermind. Right.

Because the person is trying to understand that is highly offensive to a deaf person because you’re just writing them off. 

Laurie: [00:22:40] Right. Instead of just sitting there and going, okay, wait, can you slow down?

Camryn: [00:22:43] Can you say it again? Right. Are you saying right. And taking that out or

Laurie: [00:22:48] did you need me to slow down, do you need me to write it 

Camryn: [00:22:50] Right. There’s other ways to communicate, right. And so I think this is no different than when you’re talking about black people and white people or whatever, to people, you have to learn how to communicate in a way and learn about the other person.

Right. Not just make assumptions. There’s so many assumptions, you know, and I just. Yeah. Like there’s a lot of work that goes into this. We have to, we have to all educate. I’ll also say this there’s work that has to be done within the black community. We’ve spent so many years trying to fight this. I’m not writing off every white person.

Right. I’m not trying to generalize, but I am in this moment. It’s like, we’ve, we’ve spent so much time trying to fight this one on our own. Right. And now that we’re finally being heard. A lot of people are like, Oh yes, thank you. Like, cause I’m, you’ve heard people, like people say like I’m tired, you know?

Yeah. But there’s, there’s also, you know, within the black community. there’s a, there’s a protective place on this where we feel like, well, I don’t want you to try to be the voice for me. I don’t want you to try to fight for me. Like we’ve been doing, it’s a pride issue. Right. And we have, we have to move past that.

We just do, like, if you have people trying to help you, right. Let’s you gotta move past that. We have to work together. 

Laurie: [00:24:15] And would you, so I’d like that you say that because I’ve heard the term, you know, be an ally, be an ally thrown around so much. And it’s like, okay, what does that mean? And what should I do?

And so I think you’ve given us some really positive steps. 

So take any to start, start at home with your kids and with your family, you know, from what you’re saying, do you feel like people would take offense to that term too? 

Camryn: [00:24:41] Allyship. 

Laurie: [00:24:42] Yeah, 

Camryn: [00:24:44] No, I mean, I, I don’t, and I haven’t, I haven’t heard of any of, you know, my black friends and family who have taken offense to it.

Cause that really is what it is. Right. It’s an Alliance like we need. All sides. I mean, you know, and this isn’t just a black and a white thing within, you know, for people of color, right. There’s divides there too, you know, and you have, you know, Asian communities who were like, we gotta step up, we gotta do, we have to help.

Right. You have Hispanic communities who would say doing the same thing. Right. And, yeah, no, I, I definitely think that’s exactly what it is. It is an allyship. You know, for me, it has to be an active one, right? Like, like again, like thank you for those who have checked in, that really does go far and continue to check in.

Right. Because you know, I have people who call and they’ll say, Hey, how are you doing? And I’m not the only one. This is a true thing. with a lot of like my black friends right now say like, Hey, how are you doing? . Genuinely cannot say, Oh, you know how you would just be like, Oh yeah, I’m okay. I’m good. You know?

Yeah. We can’t because we’re not right. We’re not okay. That’s going to make me cry…

There’s things happening. 

Laurie: [00:26:01] Like I don’t think most people are okay, but for me now, maybe because I’m Canadian, maybe because I’m white maybe. Cause I like my bubble. I really like my naive bubble about all things. 


I’ll be honest. 

Camryn: [00:26:16] yeah. 

Laurie: [00:26:17] It’s horrifying. 

Camryn: [00:26:19] Yeah, 

Laurie: [00:26:22] there’s that pull to just help in any way, do whatever I can, if, if even something small, like having this uncomfortable conversation, 

Camryn: [00:26:32] I really do mean that, that is a big. That is a big place of doing, you know, having the conversations. I have a friend who immediately wrote a grant for her school to open up, to fund more diversity in their library.

You know, I mean, diversifying children with books, you know, I, you know, I would bet that most people haven’t put a lot of thought into what goes into there. They’re their children’s book, right? Like as far as like what the people look like. Right. But that’s a big part of it or dolls. Right. Most people get dolls that look like they’re children, right?

No, like we too don’t get me. Don’t get me wrong. We, as black people do the same thing, like I want a doll that looks like a black child. Yeah, yeah. Right. But I’m also, I think it’s just, it’s just a difference. I, I would be hard pressed to think that white people Go out of their way to make sure that they have diversity dolls in there.

In their children’s collection, you know, and that’s not a right or wrong thing. That’s just the kind of thing that we have to untrain ourselves. Right. So like, if you, if you, reward your child, say with books, right. So then maybe. So another big thing is supporting the black community. So maybe, you know, okay, you do X, Y, and Z on Friday or Saturday, we’re going to go get a new book, right?

You do your work and you find a black owned bookstore in your area and you go to that bookstore, right. That’s supporting the black economy, or, you know, you say, okay, these are the five books that you’re going to choose from this time and make them diverse books, you know, it’s, it’s things like that. Yeah.

That just opens our children’s eyes a little bit more. 

Laurie: [00:28:24] Absolutely. 

Camryn: [00:28:25] Yeah. 

Laurie: [00:28:26] I realized, and I’ve been called out on this before, so I have my books. It’s a giant head on the cover giant head, and most of them are white because I think like a lot of others, like the doll thing I want to, I have three books, all four, actually for each of my kids.

And then the illustrator sort of picked one for hers. And I’ve explained this a few times feeling very, just, well, this is why this is why modeled on my own kids and not allowing the less those traders kids and one was kind of an accident. But now I feel like, I feel like we all probably write books with, for our children to start with.

And so we maybe want the characters to look like our children, but. You know, there’s what, 5% diverse characters in children’s literature right now, another downfall. Absolutely. And so much room for improvement. So anyone listening, if you’re working on a book, if you’re working on your characters, can I suggest diversifying your characters?

Camryn: [00:29:32] If you, if you remember, when we were working on the memory of play. Aye. I struggled because I did not want one character that was just one character. And so the conversation that I had with you and with Ellie, was that if we’re going to do characters, I need them to change because I need to represent as many cultures and children as I can.

Right. And that’s what we did. you know, and that doesn’t mean that, you know, one book can’t have one character, but if you’re. If you’re yes, you need to diversify, you can’t shy away from it. There’s nothing, again, there’s nothing wrong with a little black or brown child, you know, and, you know, again, these are things that we have to teach our children about  a) seeing that, and b) finding the beauty in that, you know, Yeah, Monroe, right?

Sorry, go ahead. No, that’s okay. I was just in the say Monroe, he’s four and you know, he’s biracial. So he’s Korean and he’s black and I’ll say, Monroe, like what color is your skin? Right. And he’ll say golden, like that’s an awesome color. And so like in the summer where he gets a, you know, a little tanner and he’ll say, “I’m crispy gold right now,” you know, and it’s just, it’s awesome. But we’ve also made sure to explain to him, but the reason, you know, parents very much, can you science on their side, the reason that you’re this beautiful golden brown is because of melanin, right. And melanin is in your eyes and it’s in your hair and it’s in your skin.

Right. And that’s what makes you, you know, Brown. Right. That’s why daddy isn’t as Brown. Right. But mommy is even more Brown than you. I have more melanin. Right? So we, we explain these things and it’s, that’s science, right? That’s not a better or worse. We’ve never said, Oh, well, yeah, your skin is, you know, it’s a little darker.

I mean, there’s no negative to it. That’s a fact, you know?

Yeah. The other thing I will say about that is, I’ve been in company with, white people or even just like in the grocery store, children, as we know are very curious. Right. and again, it’s like sitting in that discomfort when a child, when a non-black child. Or really a non person of color child CS.

So let me just make that even clearer.

When a white child sees when a white child sees a, black or Brown person, they tend, they notice. So I don’t, I don’t believe in, you know, children don’t see color. They absolutely do. Okay. But what usually ends up happening in my experience at least, is that the parent tries to like, turn there, you know, don’t stare, that’s where, or what do you, you know, and you know what they’re looking at, right?

Yeah. Okay. I have always been like, I’m waiting for the white person who will be like, Oh honey, are you looking at her skin? Is that like, just to have a conversation about it, right? 

Laurie: [00:32:53] Like that’s so uncomfortable in a grocery store…

I’d rather have the conversation in the car. 

Camryn: [00:33:00] Yeah, well, or, or you can have it in private with you, you know, but those are, those to me are missed opportunities, right? Like maybe you are too uncomfortable. I get it to have it with it, with a stranger. Right. But you can have that conversation with your child when you get in the car at home and be like, Hey, I saw that you were looking at the lady that was in the chip aisle.

Right. What did you notice about kids?

What did you notice about her?

Like what were you looking at? Did you notice that her skin was a little different, you know, and just have the conversation about it? You know? I guess the conversation I’m wishing does happen is, again, I have white friends who I’ve noticed their children have that, like, that, that look, you know, where they’re like, that’s different, you know?

And they haven’t. They don’t have the words to articulate it because they haven’t had the dialogue behind it and the conversations. But to me in a safe space of friendship, that is a place where you in front of me, we can have a conversation with our children. You know, Ms. Camryn has Brown skin, right?

She’s a black woman and, you know, debit, whatever, wherever you want that to go, or maybe it just stops there. You don’t shy away from it. You don’t tell them not to stare. You know, and I think the same thing goes with any sort of difference. If you see somebody in a wheelchair, to me, it’s the same thing, right?

You don’t tell your child not to stare. You have a conversation about it because they are taking something into their brain. And now if you don’t have a conversation, you’ve just left this piece of their brain that has information with you’re leaving it to society to fill that gap. And that’s a little dangerous.

So dangerous, right? 

Laurie: [00:34:48] I appreciate that very much. I think that will help a lot of people. Don’t forget to go back when you’re in the car, if that’s where it has to be. You’re at home. Thank you for that. Thank you so much for talking to me about this. I feel like we could go on, ..

Camryn: [00:35:04] ..We could , 

Laurie: [00:35:05] it’s 

Camryn: [00:35:05] a big  conversation.

Laurie: [00:35:06] Maybe we will. We should. But I just wanted to express really my heartfelt gratitude for you entertaining my stupid questions. That’s how I kind of feel that I, you know, you made it okay. You made it safe. So I appreciate that. 

Camryn: [00:35:24] I’m happy to hear that. And I really do, you know, I really do empower you just to sit in that discomfort and just grow, you know, and just, just be okay with, be okay with being wrong.

And be okay with changing right today. Somebody can think one thing about black people and with one conversation, that idea can change. And that is not, that is not anything except for growth. That’s all that is. And let that, I mean there, I mean, I think we’re all trying to grow through life, right. Yes.

So like, let that be a beautiful place that we can grow every day we can grow as people. 

Laurie: [00:36:12] Well, I think you’ve just titled our podcast episode. Thank you. Thank you. Welcome Laurie. 

I appreciate you. Thank you, talk soon. 

Camryn: [00:36:25] Okay, bye.

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Picture of Laurie Wright

Laurie Wright

Teacher turned author, turned children's mental health advocate. Laurie has given a TEDx talk, gives workshops for parents, teachers, and children, and has published five books in the Mindful Mantras series, all to help combat the crisis kids are currently facing. Teachers can't stop the urge to teach! A course for creatives who want to write for kids is coming soon!
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