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Do you talk to your kids about race?

Posted by on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:13 AM
  • 102 Replies
1 mom liked this

From the time my daughter was born, I have tried to be conscientious about the messages she's getting about race and ethnicity. I know all too well what kinds of messages she'll be getting from society and from the media, and I want to make sure that our home is a place where racist messages are combatted and questioned. She has dolls of different races and ethnicties, and I make sure that the books and movies I get her represent a variety of different kinds of backgrounds, cultures, and colors. She attended a preschool where the curriculum was taught entirely in Spanish, and she was fully bilingual from an early age (unfortunately, she has lost most of her Spanish since we moved away and had to leave that school, but my hope is that it laid an early foundation for picking up other languages and for embracing different languages).

Tonight, my daughter noticed I was upset and asked me what was wrong. She is almost five and I feel she is too young to get into the details of a murder case with, so instead, I sat her down and pulled out one of her storybooks. I pointed to a picture of two little girls, one white and one black. I asked her, "Do these girls look like you?" She thought about it for a minute and pointed to the little white girl and said, "This one looks like me." I asked her, "What about the other girl?" She looked and said, "No, she looks different." I said, "Okay, what's different about her?" She thought and said, "Her hair is different. And her face." I asked, "What's different about her face?" She said, "It's brown." I said, "Right, and what color is the other girl's face?" She looked puzzled. "It's like my face." So I asked, "What color is your face?" She thought for a moment and said, "It's pink."

So I told her, "Listen, as you get older, you might hear some people who have pink skin like us say things that aren't nice about people with brown skin, like this little girl. What would you think if you heard someone say something like that?"

She said, "I would think that's mean, and I would tell them to stop."

I told her, "Good. It's important to understand that people come in all different kinds of colors, but that doesn't mean that anyone is better than anyone else. You must always speak up if you hear other kids saying something mean because someone looks different, right?"

She said, "Of course."

I don't know how to explain to my child that we live in a world where a brown-skinned boy can be killed just for walking down the street, but I feel I have to start somewhere. I want her to live in a better world someday than the one we live in now, and she is going to have to be a part of making the changes we need in order to get there. I want her to be prepared. And I want to make sure that I am teaching her what she needs to know so that when she does start to encounter racism, she will know to question it and to speak out.

So do you talk to your kids about race and ethnicity? Do you teach them about racism? Do you try to offer guidance on what to do or say when they encounter it?

I am especially interested in hearing from non-white mamas and mamas of non-Anglo/European ethnicities. What is your advice for a white mama trying to teach her kids about racism? What things do you worry about or go through with your kids that white moms never have to think about?

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by on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:13 AM
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Replies (1-10):
gdiamante
by Silver Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM

We did when he was younger, especially when I had to cover a Neo-Nazi event a few years back. These days, my son's pretty apt to tell anyone racist that they're an idiot, straight to their face. 

GOBryan
by Silver Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:21 AM
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No. No reason to do so. 

heidimoose134
by Momma Moose on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:22 AM
2 moms liked this

My kids are still too young for all of that, but honestly until they come to me with questions, I'm not sure I'm going to say much of anything. Because I don't want them to break people down by their race/ethnicity. I just want them to see people as people, regardless of their differences. Naturally we'll have to talk about it sometime but I don't know that I will bring it up. I'll wait for them to.


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coronado25
by Silver Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:23 AM
I had many similar conversations with my kids and I tried awfully hard to make friends with some black mothers I met through the years...for some reason those attempts never grew beyond aquaintance. But we have a close friend who is black and like an uncle to the kids...but mostly all I can do is talk and discuss. Wish I was a living example of inter racial ffriendships.
coupon_ash_back
by on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:26 AM
I teach love for all. Race,disability,sexual preference, etc.
1Giovanni
by Becca on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:28 AM
1 mom liked this

Nope, we just live in a very multi-culture town to my boys we are all the same. There is not reason to bring it up if they don't see any difference. 

funmommy123
by Bronze Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:29 AM
I did with my 10yr old son when he was in the 2nd grade. A classmate of his said some stuff about him being black & how he couldn't do certain things because he was black.
pj2becca21
by Bronze Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:30 AM
3 moms liked this

Talking about race is why there is racism! I have taught my daughter that looks don't matter we are all the same and bleed the same red blood. 

karamille
by Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:33 AM
7 moms liked this

There is a really good article about this.  I'll have to see if I can find it.  I think you handled that really well.  Our instinct is often to tell our kids that everybody is the same on the inside and take a color blind approach to it.  Which sounds good on the surface, but its not correct.  The message we want to send is that we all are different and thats good.  We have different cultures, different traditions, different ways of being raised - and they are all beautiful and and should be respected and accepted.   But with that, we must also explain that there are inequalities.  Tolerating others is not enough.  Acceptance is what is the desired goal.  Its a tough touch, but an important one.  

Aestas
by Gold Member on Jul. 14, 2013 at 12:35 AM
1 mom liked this

I get what you're saying, but what I have realized is that as long as society is not "color-blind," it won't help to teach my kids to be "color-blind," either. I think it's important to celebrate diversity and cultural differences as an important part of what makes our society so vibrant and healthy, while recognizing that our differences are not an excuse for racism or hatred.

Quoting heidimoose134:

My kids are still too young for all of that, but honestly until they come to me with questions, I'm not sure I'm going to say much of anything. Because I don't want them to break people down by their race/ethnicity. I just want them to see people as people, regardless of their differences. Naturally we'll have to talk about it sometime but I don't know that I will bring it up. I'll wait for them to.


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