“I Want To Be White”

His skin dries more easily than mine, and when it does it turns an ashy gray. So after bath I ask him to bring me his lotion. He’s six now and old enough to put it on by himself but the touch still means so much to him. I wait for him to return with the brown tube.

But instead he lugs mom’s giant pump dispenser back to me, the white plastic rectangle the size of his head, straining under its weight. “I want this lotion,” he says.

And when I ask why, he answers, “I want to be white.”

I listen as, in almost perfect English now, Sambhaji explains that it’s the lotion from the white container that makes mommy white. And his lotion is squeezed from a brown tube so…

“I want to be white.”


A woman at church stops to talk to me in the lobby. Her hair is blonde and straight. Her eyes are green. Her nose is slender and her lips thin. But her skin is freshly browned from a trip to the beach.

Sambhaji tilts his head and runs his stare across her arms, legs, face.

At bedtime he asks why the lady at church is turning brown. And my answer forms a new question. “Can my friends play inside with me?”


Over some Olive Garden breadsticks – his favorite – Sambhaji announces that he will marry the little girl next door, and that they will have two brown kids, two peach kids and two peach-brown kids.

This isn’t surprising. He doesn’t dislike “brown people.” His kindergarten classroom looks like a gathering of the United Nations. His favorite cousin is hands down Yeneneh – the gentle giant from Ethiopia. Our house is bustling with neighborhood kids of all backgrounds every afternoon. And now he talks of fathering brown alongside peach.

He doesn’t dislike “brown people.” He just doesn’t want to be one sometimes. He doesn’t want to be different in his own home.


Luke had Yoda and I’ve got Mary Ostyn. Because parenting an adopted child is a gift always but can sometimes seem as impossible as lifting a ten-ton spacecraft from a swamp using only mind powers. I need more than a little encouragement and instruction.

Mary, mother of ten, wrote recently about “Raising Black Kids In A White State” and linked to three very helpful articles at the end. If you’ve adopted transracially I highly recommend reading Mary’s post and the others she linked to. And if you’ve found other resources that have helped you and yours, please tell us about them!

And if your family is monochromatic? Could you pause for a minute and say a prayer for the parents and kids of multiracial families?

Thank you.