Raising Kids Who Aren’t Racists.

There are times when I think that our country has come so far. I adopted a child with a completely different color skin than mine who has been embraced by a largely white community. We elected our first African American president. Twice.

Way to go us!

Not to belittle those milestones, but this week I’m not feeling that way. At all.

Maybe it was Megyn Kelly’s whole “Santa Clause is white” bit or Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s sickening insinuation in GQ magazine that blacks were delighted and content with the Jim Crow South (and the subsequent barrage of Facebook comments by fellow Christians — and even some church leaders — supporting him as some type of martyr for the Christian faith), but this week I’m feeling disgusted. I’m feeling afraid.

I’m feeling angry.

While I’ve admittedly been seething about the latest bigot to reveal his attitudes, because it scares me to death about what else is lurking inside the hearts of so many in our country, I’ve been trying to think of how to respond appropriately and effectively. And unleashing my rage in Facebook debates is probably not going to change a lot of people’s hearts and minds.

What I can do as a mom is to raise kids who are compassionate, aware, and have zero tolerance for racism.

Mind if I share with you my thoughts and research on how to do the same for your household?

racism

1. Kids aren’t colorblind. That’s okay. When your pink skinned child notices my chocolate skinned child and asks why he is a different color than her, you don’t need to shush her and drag her away apologetically. THIS IS A TEACHABLE MOMENT. Talk to your kids openly about differences in cultures, ethnicity and beliefs. If you don’t — someone else will. And that someone may influence your child’s beliefs in less-than-desirable ways.

2. Teach empathy. A few months ago, I took my kids to an African American Gospel church in downtown Los Angeles. A couple of weeks later, out of the blue, Yaya asked me, “Mom — how come all the people at that church in California had dark skin like [Baby Boy] and we were the only light skinned people?” I asked her how that made her feel. Did she feel different? Uncomfortable? Like other people were staring at her? Then we talked about how Baby Boy is the only dark skinned person at our church, and how as he gets older that might make him feel uncomfortable and different and strange. I could see in her a whole new level of understanding and compassion for what her little brother is going to face. And she’s four years old.

3. Be aware of the items in your house and the message they give. Are your children’s books, dolls, action figures and wall art comprised solely of white people? This may seem subtle but it’s important! Purchase dolls and books that depict a variety of ethnicity and talk to your child about these differences and how they make these toys/pictures/people beautiful and unique (see point 1).

4. Seek out positive role models for your child from other races. Nelson Mandela. Jeremy Lin. Cesar Chavez. Maya Angelou. Kristi Yamaguchi. Dora the Explorer. Doc McStuffins.

5. Teach by example. If someone in your presence uses a racial slur or makes a negative insinuation — don’t just change the subject or stand idly by! Address this issue. Show your child how important it is to take a stand against racial intolerance, so that if he is ever faced with something similar, he knows how to respond properly. If he is ever the victim of racism — he will know you have his back.

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