Blog, Parenting, Reflecting

Guess Who? Race Card Not an Issue

guess-who I can’t stand confrontation or even controversy. So while listening to a talk radio show this morning, it was a natural move for me to switch the station when a caller began to argue with the DJ about the “race card.” Apparently, the caller was offended when the DJ changed his tone/accent when impersonating an Asian man and the DJ was put out (to say the least) that the caller insisted on “playing the race card.”

 I can’t stand to listen to people argue in public, much less on air, so I quickly switched to another channel. It was an interesting argument, though, and one that made me think about how much our society has changed, yet has still stayed the same.

 When I was a child, my younger sister and I loved the game “Guess Who?” It was a guessing game where each player had a plastic card rack of people with differentiating features and a primary card. The object of the game was to guess the other player’s person by asking yes or no questions.

 The “people” ranged from older curly-haired black females, young white males with hats to Asian females sporting glasses and balding French males. Twenty years ago, when we played this game often, our questions focused primarily on race – Is your person white? Is your person black? – and then dwindled to accessories. Is your person wearing a scarf? Does your person have a yellow hat?

 Interestingly enough, though, when I pulled out this game a few weeks ago for my own two children to play, the questions were quite different. Does your person have a surfer haircut? Does your person have a big nose? Is your person smiling? Does your person have dimples?

 What I noticed was that my kids didn’t pay much attention to race at all while playing the game. Not once did they pull the “race card.” Not once did they question skin color or ethnic styles.

 It was comforting to see through my kids’ play that race was not a source of controversy and that I’ve raised them to look beyond skin color and notice the special qualities of each individual. By no means, do I think that racial discrimination is not still predominantly causing injustice in this society, but for one moment, it was nice to forget the confrontation and see that my kids did not even acknowledge the “race card.”

 I was proud of their growth and maturity, until my son said, “Does your person have a big butt?” Yes, we still have some things to work on …


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Aug. 12, 2009

 © Shannon Philpott, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


3 thoughts on “Guess Who? Race Card Not an Issue”

  1. Shan, I have to agree and disagree with you on this one.

    On the one hand, what’s wrong with noticing the glaringly obvious physical characteristic of a person when describing them (or playing Guess Who?)? Let’s face it- the amount of melanin in a person’s skin is just a bit obvious. It’s the same as mentioning color of hair or color eyes, of how tall a person is. It’s part of who the person is.

    What you have taught your children, though, is that they shouldn’t make judgments based on a person’s skin color. That is the important lesson. The color of a person’s skin has no more to do with a person’s personality and character than, well, the color or his or her eyes or hair.

    As a society, I think we’ve swung the racial pendulum just a bit to far. In an effort to avoid judging a person on their melanin count and offending them, we ignore it all together. MLK dreamed of a day when his children would be judged not on the color of their skin, but the content of their character- not that no one would notice the color of their skin.

    There’s a song that explains it quite well.
    “Pardon me, your epidermis is showing, sir
    I couldn’t help but note your shade of melanin
    I tip my hat to the colorful arrangement
    Cause I see the beauty in the tones of our skin …
    A piece of canvas is only the beginning for
    It takes on character with every loving stroke
    This thing of beauty is the passion of an Artist’s heart
    By God’s design, we are a skin kaleidoscope ”

    The song? “Colored People” by DC Talk.

    hmm… I’ve rambled enough… maybe I should start writing on my own blog for a change…

  2. Great point! It’s tricky to try and explain so much of our society to our children – you know this, too, as a parent. I don’t want my kids to think that race is a taboo and ignore the obvious differences among us. However, as you mentioned, I also don’t want them to pass judgement based on these differences.

    Love the lyrics of the song – in my opinion – rambling on a blog is always justified – thanks for the comment!

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