About a Girl: Come So Far (Got So Far To Go)

My daughter has just realized that people’s skin color is different. She knew this before sort of because when she was telling me about a friend at school she mentioned the girl had a “brown face”.

Today I realized that she’s learning racial differences thanks to the movie Hairspray (2007). She loves the movie and has seen it about eight times in 3 days, no exaggeration. While the movie is mainly about a fat girl trying to dance in a skinny girl’s world, the subplot is about integration in Baltimore in the 1960’s.

So I’ve been getting all these questions from her asking me why was Queen Latifah and those other people walking? Why did the police stop them? Why is Michelle Pfieffer angry that the other girl won?


I could lie my way around this all, but I’m not really big on lying to my kid. So I went ahead and told her the truth. Queen Latifah is marching because the TV station canceled “negro day” (which I had to explain further). Why are they marching if they are going to go to jail because of the police? Well, the police aren’t always right. (And isn’t that a BIG one for a 5 year old to handle?). Michelle Pfieffer? Well, she wanted her own daughter to win (which is mostly true any way).

In a way I’m lucky that My kid goes to a school that is so equally balanced between Hispanic and black kids. It makes the whole thing easier for her to comprehend I think. Then she wondered out loud if her baby brother was going to be black (I had to explain why he wouldn’t be). I just can’t wait until she discovers how humans have further sub-divided themselves (sarcasm). I still remember when I realized it as a small kid.

I don’t think any other John Waters’ movies have such a strong message underlying the general silliness. It’s written (both Hairsprays,) in a way that sometimes you have to just cringe at what is coming out of these character’s mouths. Of course I realize that it’s light in comparison to what must of been the reality. But my daughter and I are not going to sit together and watch Mississippi Burning anytime soon. She’s 5.

Thank you John Waters, for making my evening at home into an after school special. That wasn’t sarcasm. Thank you.

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