Choon James: Understanding Begins With Me

I was a young mother with a 2-year-old boy living at Wymount Terrace on the BYU Provo campus in Utah. I was doing laundry with Robbie when a tall dark man walked into the laundry room.

I don’t know what his nationality was. He could have been a black-American citizen or a “foreigner”. But he did have a particularly dark pigment.

When Robbie saw him, his quick response was to point to him and said loudly, “Mom, what is that?”

That was awkward.

But I immediately told Robbie that he was our friend who had a darker skin than us. I said it loud enough so our visitor could hear it. Our new friend and I smiled at each other .

Our kind visitor understood a child. He did not get offended. He did not get angry. He did not blame me for my child’s actions. He did not start lecturing me.

I think about that incident once in a while. Someone who had no exposure to a black person could naturally react the way he did. I appreciate that good man with a kind understanding nature. It makes life less complicated.

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