When I was little, I didn't pay any more attention to the color of people's skin than I did to the color of their hair or their eyes. In my kindergarten class, there were beige kids and tan ones, brown and pink. There were kids with polka dotted skin and one boy whose skin was lavender and yellow scar tissue. We had hair that was black, brown, yellow, or red and eyes that were blue, green, grey, or brown. But we were all kindergartners, and that's what mattered.

It wasn't until I was in second grade that I realized that, for some people, the color of someone's skin was more important than their character. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Haley. She was one of the pioneering African-American teachers in the Seattle School District. We loved Mrs. Haley. She wore pretty dresses and taught us adding and subtracting with toys. One day, I was in the cloakroom at the back of our classroom, washing paintbrushes in the big utility sink. A boy started to tell me that I shouldn't play with a certain girl during recess. She was in third grade, and we didn't play with third-graders. Of course, that's what I thought he was objecting to, but he said no, it was because she was a Negro. I asked him why that would matter. After all, Mrs. Haley was a Negro. By that time. there were a lot of kids in the cloakroom listening to our conversation. They started to chime in. They all thought the boy was being silly. No one could understand why my friend's skin color or Mrs. Haley's skin color mattered at all.

Children are taught prejudice. Here are some books that show that the color of people's skin shouldn't divide them:


The skin you live in /Tyler, Michael.  E TYL

The bracelet /Uchida, Yoshiko.  E UCH

Mrs. Katz and Tush /Polacco, Patricia  .E POL1 / 1

Pink and Say/Polacco, Patricia  E POL

Vera's new school /Rosenberry, Vera  .E ROS