Crayons and Cupcakes

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

...written with (and mostly by) Lindsay Dawkins

...full text also available on Mixed and Happy

Following is a Dawkins family classic that stresses the importance of being prepared with narratives and coping strategies for families that are Mixed and Happy…

…Sunday school. A time to learn about God and his creations. Also known as a time when parents drop their screaming kids off with some old lady who watches them color pictures of Jesus until the sermon is over. There five year old Elle was, minding her own business and coloring the nativity scene. Her favorite colors were pink and purple so naturally those were the colors of choice for Mary and Joseph. Ah, but what to color baby Jesus?

“Let’s make him green with red polka dots,” she thought. She seemed to have recalled red and green being associated with Christmas for some reason.

Just then a little boy a few years older decided to pull Elle’s coloring book away from her and inspect her creation. “Why did you color the people with those stupid colors? Don’t you know that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were white?”

Little Elle was greatly confused by this. She said, “They were? But my Bible doesn’t have any pictures.”

“Don’t be dumb,” said the boy. “Everyone knows they were white.

But Elle thought, “But if I color them with the white crayon then I won’t be able to see it on the page.”

Not knowing what to make of all this, she closed her coloring book and began to play with a doll in the corner. Just then the little boy who had attempted to educate her opened up the coloring book and picked up a peach crayon. He then proceeded to color all the white people with it.


Later that evening, Elle was watching the news with her mother. They were
showing a picture of a man who had been arrested for armed robbery.

“Twenty-four year old Jamal Jenkens, a black man from Brooklyn, was arrested today in connection with the bodega shooting and robbery that occurred last week,” read the anchorwoman.

Little Elle was confused. First of all, she wondered why all the pictures of criminals they showed were of dark people. But what really bothered her was the fact that they had called that man a black man when he was clearly brown! First white people were really peach and now brown people were black? Had she learned all her colors incorrectly? Anxious now, Elle turned to her mother and told her she thought something was wrong with her eyes.

Elle’s mother asked her why and Elle told her, trying to fight back tears, that she was fearful because black people looked brown and peach people didn’t look white to her.

Elle’s mother decided that now would be an appropriate time to begin explaining the concept of race to her daughter. She turned to Elle and asked, “When you look at yourself, what color do you see?”
Little Elle said, “Why I’m pink mommy!” Elle’s mother smiled and took a deep breath. She continued. “Sweety, did you know that you are part black?”

Elle was dumbfounded now! “I am? Which part?” She started looking at her fingers and then her toes in hopes of finding any trace of her blackness. She came across a beauty mark on her pinky toe and said, “Is this the part?

Elle’s mother couldn’t help but chuckle at this. “Well honey, you are mixed,” she said. “Remember when we baked the other day? How we had to take all those different ingredients and mix them all together? Well all those part made up one cake when we were finished. Our family is like a cake with many different ingredients too. In our family there are white parts, brown parts, yellow parts, black parts, beige parts, and lots of others. When you mix all those different parts together you just might get a cake that’s a different color from the rest of the ingredients. Even a little pink cupcake like you.”

Elle was certain she understood now. “So then all mixed people are pink like me?”

“Not exactly sweetheart,” said her mother. “People come in all different colors but are not always called the color they look like. Don’t worry, one day you’ll understand a little better. Just remember this. It doesn’t matter what color you are. Everyone is the same on the inside.” Elle didn’t know how everyone could be the same on the inside. Clearly the fat man who delivered their mail everyday had bigger insides than she did so she couldn’t possibly look the same as him. She decided to let the whole thing go for now though. “One day I’ll understand,” she said to herself, “but for now I think I need a new box of crayons.”