I keep coming back to the seminar about teaching young children about race and color. I’ve already written three posts about it, so what more could I possibly have to say? Not only do I have this post, but there is one more – one that is sure to be controversial.
In my first post about the seminar, I mentioned that some friends of mine were there. One of them is an outspoken guy, and I loved what he had to say:
Somebody is going to shape your kid’s attitude about race. Shouldn’t that be you?
Whether you call it race or color, the fact is, there are a lot of different people in this world. It is up to every parent – not just parents of children of color – to make sure that our children understand what these differences are all about.
- Who? Who is considered to be a member of what race? (This ties in with the question, Why are brown people called black?) Who do we know who are different colors?
- What? What does it mean to be a different color? What happens when we point out differences in color?
- When? When do we see people who are different from us? Do we see them everyday, or only when we venture out of comfort zone? When can we find opportunities to be in the minority
- Where? Where we live, are there different people around? Where do we see people of color? Where did people who are different colors come from in the first place?
- Why? Why are we different? Why are there so many colors? Why do some people hate others based on the color of their skin? Why does color even matter?
I don’t think that we need to give our kids some sort of presentation on color every day. As one parent commented on my last post, “Saying, ‘We need to read this book because it shows that Chinese girls can be princesses too’” is “weird”. But pointing out the beauty of the princess’s hair, or the differences in where she lives is one way to acknowledge and affirm differences.
The presenters had some suggestions as to what we can do to help our children understand and embrace differences:
- Check our own personal attitudes about color and race.
- Listen to what we’re saying when we talk to our kids and to other people.
- Allow yourself the opportunity to become friends with people who are a different color than you.
- Never “shush” your child when he talks about color.
- If you’re not prepared to have an in-depth conversation, let “beautiful” buy you time. (For example, “Mommy, that man is almost black!”, “Yes, isn’t his skin beautiful?”)
- Go out of your way to attend cultural festivals and other events.