Today at lunch, one of our good friends was over and he was joking with Doug about whether Doug was “Black” in his taste in suites (we will all be at a wedding tomorrow, and the two of them were discussing wardrobe choices). He also had a few amusing things to say about the ways that he and his wife consider me to be “Black.” Mercy sat next to our friend and listened intently to the conversation going on around her.
Later that afternoon, I was over at another friend’s house around the corner with the kids when our lunchtime friend rang their doorbell. We were sitting up at the table for dinner, but Mercy could see the front door and who was standing in it. All of a sudden Mercy looked at me and said: “Black. Walter’s black.” “Yes,” I responded to her, totally caught off guard, “Walter is black.”
Then she looked down at her arms and her hands, then back up to me: “I not black, Mommy.”
“No, Mercy,” I answered, stumbling over words that now sounded strange to say: “People with your color of skin are called white.”
She studied her hands a minute longer, then reached down and picked up her taco.