On the occasion of a mother and twelve year old son taking a short cruise in the Caribbean, one of the activities selected by the son, who we will call Matt, was a visit to the shipboard hot tub on the sundeck. They both put on swim suits, grabbed some towels for the venture, and headed up the elevators and through the passageways to the sundeck. It was a beautiful sunny day appropriate for the occasion.
On arriving at the hot tub, there was one little girl about five years old waiting for somebody to play with. If her mother was in sight she was not monitoring her daughter very closely.
Matt arrived at almost the same time as a black girl about the same age, who we will call Kendra. They both crawled into the hot tub expecting to get acquainted with each other.
Before they could get settled in the tub the five year old started splashing water on both of them. Kendra spoke up immediately: “Stop splashing water on me,” she said, making it clear that she was not a willing subject of a five-year-olds’ abuse.
The five year old then directed her splashing more toward Matt. Kendra said, “Do you like being splashed with water? Why don’t you tell her to stop splashing you with water?”
After a short pause, Kendra added, “Is she your sister?”
“No” Matt said, somewhat startled by the socialization process up to this point.
At about this time Kendra looked closely at Matt, whose skin tone includes a substantial brown pigment. Kendra likely acknowledged the lady sitting nearby, whose skin tone includes no pigment.
“Is that your mother over there?” Kendra asked.
“Yes” Matt replied.
This answer did not explain the disparity of skin tones around the hot tub.
Directing her question straight at Matt, Kendra asked “Is your father black?”
“No, he is Italian” he answered confidently.
“But I have a brother from Bolivia”, he added for clarification of the confusion of colors among the skin tones around the hot tub.
Matt’s mother, who was sitting nearby and monitoring the interaction closely, could scarcely withhold her laughter at the conversation about skin tones, a spontaneous lesson about diversity in today’s America.
It was also eminently clear that Kendra was no wall flower.