Selam has always called herself brown.  I mostly use brown, too, to mirror her language, but also say black, particularly when I’m talking about groups of people  Today she was talking about two friends–one South Indian and one Guatemalan, and calling them both “brown.” Then she mentioned a girl in her class and called her “black.”

“What’s the difference between brown and black, Selam?”

“Well, brown is the color of your skin, unless you’re pink or sort of oatmealy.And black is people like me–who are brown and curly and awesome.”

“Well, S’s hair is a little bit curly and she’s awesome, too.”

“Her hair is a little curly, kind of like french fries, but black girl hair is curly like onion rings.”

I nod.

“And you can be awesome and black and awesome and not black, but black awesome is just different. It’s like a kind of twinkle. I think it happens because of the curlies.”


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