Is my toddler racist?

Four hands each spelling one letter of 'Love'

My toddler is obsessed with the music video for ‘Cups’, that Anna Kendrick song from Pitch Perfect. Her favourite part is at 2:54.

“It’s Daddy!” she yells, pointing.

Here are the ways that the guy she’s pointing looks different from my husband:

  • He’s at least 50lbs heavier
  • He’s not wearing glasses
  • He doesn’t have a beard
  • He’s wearing a straw hat

So pretty much all the ways, really.

Here are the ways that the guy she’s pointing at looks similar to my husband:

  • He’s a brown dude

Look, I know she has no concept of race yet. She’s only two. She barely has any concept of anything yet. But there’s still something a bit cringy about the possibility that she thinks all Latin guys look the same. I mean, if I pointed at every vaguely ethnic guy I saw and claimed he looked like my husband, it would be super racist. What she’s doing isn’t quite the same thing, but that the little liberal voice in my head goes, “Yikes” every time she points out ‘Daddy’ on TV.

It’s not like my daughter’s growing up in Whitey McWhitesville over here. Glasgow is made up of 21% ethnic minorities, and our neighbourhood itself has a decently-sized Asian population. If we stay here, she’ll grow up seeing people from different backgrounds every day. And that’s important – apparently white people become less racist just by moving to diverse areas.

Plus, she’s a minority herself. Not a visible one – she’s as pale as any Scottish kid – but she’s half American (White Other, according to the Scottish census) and half Puerto Rican. I often wonder if she’ll embrace her heritage as she gets older, or if she’ll be really embarrassed by her parents with the weird accents who refuse to put milk in their tea and don’t get Doctor Who.

I’m probably reading way too much into this race thing. After all, just today we were walking down the street when she pointed at a very overweight woman in a black and white floral dress and said, “Just like Mummy!”

“Umm, how is she like Mummy?” I asked.

“JUST LIKE MUMMY!” she yelled, like it was obvious.

Was it because this woman also had brown hair? Or because she was wearing sunglasses and I also very occasionally wear sunglasses? Or was it because she was also a woman in her 30s, and the Popple assumes that all women of a certain age are mummies?

My husband and I are the most important people in our daughter’s life, so it’s only natural that she would see us everywhere. And if it makes her happy to think that Daddy is making music with cups in a diner with Anna Kendrick, then…well, who am I to tell her otherwise?

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14 Replies to “Is my toddler racist?”

  1. This made me laugh! My daughter and I were in the queue at the supermarket once and a black lady was stood behind us. My daughter stared at her open mouthed. Bless her heart, the lovely lady said “you haven’t seen many like me yet have you?” Kids! Xx #blogcrush

  2. Ok-Now I’ll be singing that song all day! “When I’m gone…”

    But really? Nah. She’s not a racist! I think she’s just drawn to what’s familiar!

    #blogcrush

  3. Oh this made me laugh. If it makes you feel any better my youngest really embarrassed me in the supermarket the other day. I had to ask an assistant to come and help me at the self-scanning machine and youngest decided to shout, just as he is stood right next to us “He BIG mummy, Sooooooooooo big.” I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. Then the next day she saw another man in the middle of the street and again she shouted “HE SO BIG” but unlike the other man he wasn’t big but he was tall and it was then that I realised she meant big for tall…Phew but still need to get her saying tall instead of big! #FridayFrolics

  4. Little Kids just say what they see, my daughter stood right next to a woman in Sainsburys who was quite tubby and said to me in a loud voice,”Look Mummy that lady has a big tummy like Daddy Pig”. The lady was mortified and so was I.I couldn’t think of a single thing to say!!!! #fridayfrolics

  5. My toddler shout “Daddy” at any cyclist who passes us, regardless of gender!!! I don’t have milk in tea, and I don’t get Doctor Who either. I am British though! Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics

  6. This made me laugh 🙂 The Tubblet did similar things when she was that age. Children just come out with stuff. Sometimes it’s stuff you really wish they wouldn’t!

  7. The innocence of little mouths. I agree with Tubbs, they do just come out with things. But I also agree that it can make you cringe!
    Great post.
    #BlogCrush

  8. My once 2 year old little girl yelled “daddy”at the screen when we were watching The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington.. I just couldn’t stop laughing 😂 I don’t see any racism at all in your little one and I am a Latin woman on my 30s.. kids just see similarities and differences.. nothing to do with “ethnicity” or “race”. X

  9. My 2yo daughter has a friend who is black and we have the same thing – whenever she sees a black little boy on the TV or in the street, she starts shouting “It’s Harry!” I also whince every time this happens! But it’s totally innocent and she doesn’t mean anything bad by it at all – in a way, I think it’s un-racist because our kids just see skin colour in the same way as we see hair colour or height – just something that makes you unique. #dreamteam

  10. Ha ha this made me smile my little boy used to say Daddy at basically every man we walked past a while back, he’s just turned 2 and he stopped saying it at most people now, unless they have a beard or on a motorbike and he’s like Daddy? xx #DreamTeam

  11. #dreamteam truth, however any blonde lady my sons says looks like mummy… Reese weather spoons – yup i’ll take that 🙂
    the world is confusing to adults so i think your 2 yr old is doing well.

  12. Just popping back again from #blogcrush On the way to school, we pass a tatty old circus poster with a picture of a clown on it – every time my 2yo sees it, she points and says “Daddy!” – I still have no idea why she thinks this guy, in full clown makeup and giany red nose looks like her father. Perhaps he has a secret career that I know nothing about?? Hahaha #blogcrush

  13. Yeah – I think you’re okay with this one. They all seem to have a phase of randomly identifying everyone who remotely resembles ‘daddy’ or ‘mummy’ (usually simply by being the right gender) as daddy or mummy – it probably isn’t race related. My kids have had some awful accidental racism issues. The eldest when she was learning to speak had a REALLY unfortunate version of ‘Makka Pakka’. She didn’t attempt the Makka part at all, and we all know toddlers like to add an ‘ee’ sound to the end of everything. When she was one and at the hospital for an antenatal appointment for me when I was pregnant with her little sister, she ran round the waiting room happily smiling at everyone, and then burst into tears and hid when the ONLY non-white person there smiled at her. He was also the only person with a beard and at the time she was scared of beards. I knew that was the reason, but I doubt that is what it looked like. And, most recently, my youngest, now 2, started shouting ‘I don’t like the big black man’ completely randomly. That took me some time to figure out…she means Hades on the film Hercules. Admittedly, once I worked it out, I had to concede the description was completely accurate. But I spent 20 minutes beforehand wondering where the hell she had learnt to repeat such a phrase and who I would be needing to yell at. We have since been working on learning the names of Greek Gods, particular emphasis on Greek Gods of the Underworld. Thanks so much for joining us for #FridayFrolics

  14. This made me laugh! My 2-year-old says that so many people look like someone in his life. The person could be a different race, gender, height, weight, age. Doesn’t matter. There’s a poster of a family at the grocery store with a girl who looks maybe 10 or 12 years old, and a boy about the same age. He insists it’s his 2-year-old friends, Mia and Shelby (both girls). There’s a picture up on our doctor’s office wall of a female nurse whom he is positive is his male doctor. And the doctor? He thinks he’s actually our elementary school principal. He once pointed to a young black man and said it was his white grandfather. Who knows where he’s getting it from. Most of the time, the people he thinks he’s seeing are people he knows really, really well. I can’t imagine how he could possibly mistake them for other people, but he does it all the time! The bottom line is, toddlers make no sense!

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