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“Father, am I not Singaporean,” asks girl after “brown skin” comment by classmate

Five-year-old hears hurtful comments from classmates and shop saleswoman




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Singapore — The story of five-year-old Mayuki and her query to her father, asking if she was Singaporean because of her “brown skin”, has gone viral online.

The father took to social media to share a few insightful conversations he had with his daughter and how it takes careful explaining to ensure children grow up well-rounded whatever their skin colour.

On Tuesday (June 2), Mr Lijesh Karunakaran posted his daughter’s experiences with discrimination, not only in school but also in a clothing store.

“Achaa, am I not Singaporean?”

Mayuki had asked him if she was not Singaporean because her classmate told her she was brown, so she wasn’t Singaporean. Fortunately, Mayuki has patient and wise parents to explain crucial issues such as race and skin colour.

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“I used the opportunity to give her a lesson on race and nationality, and that skin colour doesn’t define us,” he shared.

However, Mayuki’s experience doesn’t stop there because a few days later, her buddy told her not to hold his hand as “he was afraid that he would become black too”.

The innocent girl turned to her father for an explanation. Any parent would be caught off- guard by such a question, and it took the father a while to give the following response:  “Maybe her buddy didn’t know that skin colour does not mix, like the watercolours they painted with.”

Pink suits her skin more

In a separate incident, Mayuki and her dad went shopping, and she really liked a rainbow- coloured dress. Mr Lijesh tried asking a staff member if the item was available in Mayuki’s size but before he could do so, the lady passed him a light pink dress in the child’s size.

He asked if the rainbow-coloured dress was available in Mayuki’s size. “We have it in her size, but pink is nicer for her,” replied the lady. “Rainbow colours are very vibrant. Your daughter is dark. Take this pink one. This is nice for her,” she said.

Mr Lijesh reiterated to the woman that her daughter liked the rainbow-coloured dress and that she didn’t need to tell them which shade suited her. “I advised her to not make such comments in front of a kid in the future,” he added.

He later bought the same dress from a different shop and posted a photo of a beautiful Mayuki smiling with joy in her new outfit. However, she did not forget what the lady had said and asked if pink would look better on her. “All colours look great on you. Pink, blue, white, black, all colours look good,” replied Mr Lijesh. “But the rainbow colours look perfect!”

Mr Lijesh noted that Mayuki is stronger and happier now after the conversations which happened a few months back.

Support and appreciation from the online community came rushing in. The post also has over 1,600 shares. Many drew inspiration from Mr Lijesh’s parenting and commended his approach on explaining racial diversity to Mayuki.

Mayuki, 5 years old. She likes rainbow colours. She likes rainbow coloured dresses too.Mayuki has a lot of friends in…

Posted by Lijesh Karunakaran on Monday, 1 June 2020

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