I was taken by surprise recently when my daughter said that she was not very comfortable with African Americans.
My immediate reaction was that this was wrong and I must correct it. I guess I felt disappointed, "how could this be happening?."
I can't remember what exactly I said but clearly I conveyed the sense that she had "said something wrong" because she sort of shrank into the couch and said, "I shouldn't have said anything."
Then I realized that criticizing her for having a prejudice was not going to make the prejudice go away.
The thing is, we too are brown-skinned. I pointed this out. She said that she did not like "their voices." She was kind of upset and no longer forthcoming about her feelings, as it was obvious that I had judged them as inappropriate.
I pointed out that Neil deGrasse Tyson was African American. She brightened up a bit - maybe she was surprised? and also relieved? But this does not really address the heart of the issue, since most people are not going to be like Neil deGrasse Tyson.
I started to say, "well sometimes when someone is different from you that can seem like a barrier to making friends with them." I think she felt more understood (and less criticized).
She later said something similar about some (white) friends of ours, whom we see a few times a year, whose children have disabilities.
Is she suddenly becoming aware of these social differences and clinging to the comfort of being privileged?
It also makes me take a look at myself - I may say or think all the right things about race and diversity, "have friends," etc but how often do we meet in the course of a week, or even a month? Why is our every day life so segregated?
More urgently - WHAT should I DO? I can get books about the topic but I don't really want to focus on stories of people who have overcome adversity, fought prejudice, etc - she has actually read plenty of those stories. I want stories in which people of different backgrounds and abilities feature as regular characters. Of course I will also try to diversify our every day life, though it is kind of shocking to me that it took something like this to open my eyes. Also I don't want our meetings / playdates to seem contrived so it will have to be a gradual thing and something that can become regular. It occurs to me that a few years ago we had 3 African American families in our AP playgroup of about 8-10 families but nowadays I see none of them (though at least 2 of them are still homeschooling, afaik) and I am the only nonwhite, (but being Asian, it figures differently). Not sure why this is, or if there is anything I could have done or could do now to help our group stay / become diverse.