White Guy, Black Guy
"That black guy is bad."
It was the first time I'd ever heard Kiddo mention race. She was four. We were watching a kids' show (Electric Company, to be exact) and a black man and white man were talking to each other on screen.
"Why is he bad?" I asked her.
"He's mean. I don't like him," she said. "He's mean to the white guy."
I turned my attention to the show. The black man was trying to save the party that the white man was trying to prank. They were arguing, and the white man was clearly more aggressive while the black man was defending his friends.
"Why is he bad?" I repeated, not understanding. My stomach dropped slightly; was this when it started? Four years was all she'd get to live blissfully ignorant of the pain and injustices and divisiveness surrounding race? Was she already seeing a black man as "bad?"
"Because he's being mean to the white guy," she insisted.
I was still confused. The white guy was the one being mean to the black guy on the show. A light bulb went off.
"Which one is the black guy? Show me."
She walked up to the TV and pointed to the black man. "This white guy," she emphasized, "is being mean to this black guy," pointing now to the white man.
The black man was wearing a white shirt and the white man was wearing a black shirt.
The black shirt-wearing white man was being mean to the white shirt-wearing black man. If he had been in a blue shirt, he'd be the "blue guy."
If only things could stay this fucking simple forever for all of us.