|Every mother would want their child to be kind and accepting to everyone without biases or stereotypes. One may find that by turning a blind-eye to other races and people and not calling attention to their race is like showing them they are equal. That’s the worst scenario a parent could build for his child if they want their children to be respecting and humble to other people. It’s going to do more harm than any good.|
Sometimes, parents become so nervous discussing races that they try to avoid the conversations, nervous of making a mistake while addressing them. They think it would be better if their children would come to know of it on their own with age. But that’s not the case because children observe the world around them with a greater intent and scrutiny than we do as parents.
You don’t realise that when you read your children the illustrated storybooks, you go on to say, without realising “You see the picture here, it has three little girls and one has pale skin, and we call that white and we’re white too and there’s another little girl with brown skin”. You were just saying the words, just the same way you say that sky’s blue. So, even before you realise it, you have taught your children the basic language of all racial talks. It could be used as a tool until you can teach your kids with higher level critical thinking.
With very young children you are often naming things, pointing out colors but you avoid talking about people’s colors. It could lead to your kids thinking that race is not okay to talk about; they will make their own stories and try to reason out as to why?
In that case one would normally ask which words to use when you are talking about the skin color in front of your children, that could be the use of actual skin colors, which is more descriptive or you could simply use black and white. Even though it may seem as a social construct, you could easily break it down to explain your kids about the race in our society in a larger sense. It’s not that black people are upset about being black so it’s okay to use that when trying to make your child understand.
It’s better to educate your child at home rather than them learning from school, college or the media for that matter. It would easy out the thought process as such you would be there to guide them when they need it the most. It would be another thing altogether when you start a conversation with your kid after some tragic incident that had occurred or happened. And it would be difficult to explain it to your kids if you haven’t been building your kids vocabulary and comfort and confidence before then.
You could simply start a conversation by saying something like, “The world we live in is an unfair place, that people are not treated same sometimes due to the color of their skin. People who are white may not have to worry much but those who are not white, i.e. the black people they have to feel this discrimination sometimes. We don’t want the world to be this way, therefore, we need to stand up sometimes against this so that we could make things a bit safer for our black friends.”
Meanwhile, when your kids are still growing you could do these following things to help ease out the process of accumulation of existence of many races also so as to make them understand the simple tangible concept of fairness and unfairness.
Give them books that are either have a diverse cast of characters, or that talk about races directly. Something similar to Everywhere Babies or Let’s talk about Race or The Colors of Us. Hand them things like People Colors Crayons, it allows students from a different color to represent themselves and others in their artworks. They are useful in supporting students’ exploration of race and colors. Also, having a diverse range of toys from black to brown to white would be really helpful. And your children’s behaviour towards them might as well hint towards their initial thought process towards races.
Lastly, the most important thing to have is to give your children a diverse outlook, a diverse friend group would help but when you are in a homogenous neighbourhood or work where there aren’t so many people of color. It could get difficult to give your kids the kind of community that you want him or her to respect. Interactions would help break down biases and stereotypes. Try to find your kids some recreational that are diverse, go to a church that does not only have people of your color.