Georgia and Chocolate …. racial slur or just child speak?

Georgia has a doll daughter named Chocolate.

When Georgia was two or three we went along to the toy shop and she could choose any doll she wanted.

She chose Chocolate, and then called her Chocolate.  Georgia took all of Chocolate’s clothing off as Chocolate had a t-shirt on – so Chocolate gets taken nearly everywhere with Georgia, in exactly the manner as she is pictured above.  <The plaster on Chocolate’s leg is due to a recent inury….>

Chocolate goes EVERYWHERE.  When Georgia was at pre-primary the rule was “no toys or dolls can come to school … with the exception of Chocolate…”

Georgia would take Chocolate, and when I arrived to collect Georgia most of the teachers and staff would say goodbye to Chocolate, and mention they would see her tomorrow.

I have recently put in a system where Chocolate can only go to school with Georgia on a Monday and  Friday, the remainder of the week Chocolate needs to stay home.

I spent a fair amount of time having the discussion that “Chocolate” is not a politically correct term to call anyone who has a skin colour the colour of chocolate.  But after about a year I gave up, and decided that I don’t actually find it offensive, and I find it “endearing…”

I have no idea how Georgia came up with the term, but as a child she did, and there was nothing about the term that indicated a sense of smugness or disdain or that it was discriminatory.

Chocolate is Chocolate, and Georgia says that Priveledge (our nanny) is a chocolate colour.   She also says her bestie at school is a chocolate colour – but her bestie has a name and is clearly not called Chocolate.

I remember the first time Georgia said “chocolate” and I cringed.  I felt it was so awfully politically incorrect – I recall the rucus about calling “peach coloured” crayons “skinny colour” and I recall that the term upset many people.

At the time I was all nodding agreement, but since then I think I have mellowed to the concept.

Would I have felt better if Georgia referred to her skin colour as black or coloured?

I know I should have a deep meaningful heart to heart with my child about how derogative the term “skinny colour” and “chocolate colour” is but I actually don’t think it is.  I am not going to convince her not to see colour, because that would be a bit stupid.

She can see that we are all different colours – and she expresses this, but she does not indicate that a “skinny” colour is better or more anything that a “chocolate” colour.  The colour is just a fact – the equivalent of her having hazel eyes and me having blue eyes.  It just is.

She does not mean it in a horrible way, and it is not offensive to me, but is it offensive?

Possibly I am in the minority.  Possibly this is one of the things that people have just blown out of proportion in the quest to be politically correct about everything, and maybe I need to see it in a more “factual” light.

Would it be better to refer to people by their pantone reference number?  I am around a Pantone 7401 matte not coated.

It ain’t the color a the wrapping that count, it’s what we is inside ….

I saw this Facebook status update on Sharon’s facebook earlier today: “A friend Lisette travelled to a family wedding in Tulbagh this weekend with her 2 yr old adopted black daughter. When she got there she was asked to leave the guest house because of Elizabeth… it is shameful that this mentality ever existed and shameful that we grew up with it all around us – it is even more shameful that it continues… Establishments name: T***** Bed and Breakfast, 12 **** ***** Street.”

I will let you re-read that one again …. as no doubt you will want to take another look, to be sure exactly what was being said there.

Initially I gasped – then I grimaced – then I thought to myself, what if the issue was not that the daughter was black – but that she was two years old?

Some bed and breakfasts like their white linen to remain white, and do not like the sweet pitter patter of little feet on wooden floors.  Many have a “no children” policy – rather than a “no black children” policy …. but I shall not tout myself as being an accommodation expert, so really cannot say with any real clarity what happened, why it happened, and how it happened.

My brain does tend to go “what is really happening here….?”

This status post was reposted a few times – and I was interested to read the comments.  Though I was pretty sure that the comments would use the word “horrified” or “disgusted” pretty liberally.  The person who made the booking, Lisette, made it clear she had booked and indicated she had a child – however the establishment’s website does indicate “no children.”

She feels that when she made the booking – she made it clear she had a child, and the establishment responded in a manner that left no hint of uncertainty that there was a child with this booking.

Either way, the establishment is being totally slammed in social media, and at this point do appear to be at fault.  The horses seem to be well and truly hitched to the wagon of “you turned down my booking because I arrived with a black child……”

My brain, however, struggles to grasp how this could occur.  Exactly how do you turn to someone and go “oh, sorry, you can’t stay, it appears your child is black …. sorry about that…..” 

But this is the story that is being copy and pasted on social media. If I owned said guest house I may have my knickers in a lather today, assuming they have realised there is a bit of a slander campaign running rampant.

On a related story I have a person who I work with who was looking for an apartment to rent.  Let’s call him “Paul” for the purposes of this exercise.

Paul applies and chat to various landlords and he finally finds what sounds like the perfect apartment.  It is all going swimmingly and he is just about to sign on the dotted line, but goes to take a quick look at the apartment.

Paul as pretty much agreed that he will take it, and has his spare underpants in the car, because he is that ready to move right in.

Arrives, landlords looks at him and then starts mumbling about how the apartment is taken.  Bearing in mind Paul has spoken to the landlord and they have agreed he can take it, once he has a quick look.

Paul says that unfortunately this occurs quite often – Paul would be classed as black if classifications were important.

I am hearing this story and my mouth is hanging open – and I am getting more upset than him about it.

Paul, being the level-headed guy he is, tells me that it happens, and he can either get angry, but then he will be angry all the time, or he can accept that people are just people, and some people make these flash judgements, and then he can smile, nod politely and move on with his day.

I am not sure I could.  I get cross for Paul about the fact that he was judged based on his skin colour.

But then, I would be naive and a bit mentally slow to think that we are all not filled with our own prejudices, based on the colour of someone’s skin, hair (made any blonde jokes lately?) or their eyes (ever said ‘blue eyed wonder’ ?)

I am not sure what the answer is.

I do not think it is about “not seeing colour” because part of who we are is our “colour” – but it is not the sum of any one of us.  But my colour is part of who I am – and your colour is PART of who you are.  But it does become a problem if you are judged ENTIRELY because of the colour of your skin.

The reality we are faced with – is that we are all prejudiced in one way or another.

I think we like to think we are “the rainbow nation” and sing along and smile – but the reality is that we all have “stereotypes that we have grown up with…..” or have learnt along the way.

Anyone remember the Douglas Green series of advertisements ….. no doubt you can still say the phrase in the Asian accent …..

I love this paragraph from Kathryn Stockett’s –  The Help ….

“We go on in her room, where we like to set. I get up in the big chair and she get up on me and smile, bounce a little. “Tell me bout the brown wrapping. And the present.” She so excited, she squirming. She has to jump off my lap, squirm a little to get it out. Then she crawl back up. That’s her favorite story cause when I tell it, she get two presents. I take the brown wrapping from my Piggly Wiggly grocery bag and wrap up a little something, like piece a candy, inside. Then I use the white paper from my Cole’s Drug Store bag and wrap another one just like it. She take it real serious, the unwrapping, letting me tell the story bout how it ain’t the color a the wrapping that count, it’s what we is inside.”