An inconvenient truth
For years many white families thought that telling their children “all people are equal” was enough. The truth is, that one blanket statement is not sufficient when it comes to educating your children on what society actually looks like for those who haven’t experienced equality.
Preaching equality and teaching equality are two very different things. Teaching equality means actively educating your children about white privilege, systemic racism and the experiences of black, latinx, indigenous people. Telling children to be color blind is problematic because it is teaching children to ignore the vast difference in experience a black child will have compared to a white child. White privilege means not needing to have conversations with your children about how the color of their skin will impact how society sees them and treats them. One example of this is the conversation about encounters with the police. A white child can be told to look for a police officer if they feel they are in danger, but a black child may be having an entirely different conversation about that.
Early on, children need to be made aware of the complex ways in which they will experience things in a much different light than that of their black friend. White Americans must show children anti-racism practices and educate them of the realities of racism, it is not something parents can just ignore because it is difficult. In order to make real change and to raise compassionate, antiracist children they need to be educated early on. Fighting for equality is not an easy task. They have to know that people will disagree with them, that people will try to stop them and that often the cry for justice is not heard or respected; and that people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. had to break the law to further the fight for equality.
Some people will say things like “this isn’t my problem” or that “children are too young to hear things like this”. To that, urge them to think what if this was happening to their own child. One small step a parent can take is to raise their children surrounded by people of color, latino people – so that their children see them as human beings and as active members in their lives.
Kids and racism – a moral obligation
Now, more than ever it is crucial to have these discussions with your children. While it may be difficult, kids need to be aware of the racism that is rampant in society. And teaching your children early on is a major way to influence change and to better the experiences of people of color.
Questions about kids and racism to discuss on Ohlelo:
- Did you have discussions about privilege when you were growing up?
- How else will you teach your children about racism? Books, TV shows? Showing them media where BIPOC people are main characters and actually represented?
- How will you bring more diversity to your childrens’ lives?
- What challenges have you encountered when discussing race with children?