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teaching acceptance for diversity

Poll Results: Do you meet diverse people in your daily life?

 
  • 26% (5)
    We live in a homogenous area, and our own social / homeschooling circle is also homogenous
  • 26% (5)
    We live in a homogenous area, but our own social / homeschooling circle is more diverse than average for our area.
  • 21% (4)
    We live in a diverse area and our own social / homeschooling is fairly diverse.
  • 26% (5)
    We live in a diverse area but our own social / homeschooling is not very diverse.
19 Total Votes  
post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

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.

post #2 of 39
Quote:
Is she suddenly becoming aware of these social differences and clinging to the comfort of being privileged? 

your statement rubs me the wrong way- the real wrong way!

 

as with most social interaction/situation (gender, race, etc) children learn first hand from their parents 

 

 

if someone said that statement to me- I would not even speak to the person, let alone give advise

post #3 of 39

I'm not sure whether to vote for our living in a diverse area and our homeschool group is fairly diverse or not diverse. I feel like the homeschool group isn't as diverse as it should be, especially lacking in African Americans. This spring, the two other families that came to parkday were Muslim and Hispanic. Last year, there was a Taiwanese family and a couple of Caucasian families. But our neighborhood has many African Americans, probably at least 50%. One of our immediate neighbors is Cambodian.

 

We don't run into too many people with disabilities or special needs with the exception of autism. I know a lot of kids on the spectrum. Ds doesn't always notice though he gets frustrated if a playmate isn't able to be flexible or has poor impulse control. I remind him some kids have a harder time with those things than others. Ds shies away from people that make sudden noises whether as a result of their having a disability or being an infant. But that's due to his aversion to noises.

 

I do think it's normal to be more comfortable with people that remind you of family, whether it's their body language or style of speech. I'm always feeling extra friendly and comfortable with people who have a midwestern accent because so much of my family is from there.  

post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

your statement rubs me the wrong way- the real wrong way!

 

as with most social interaction/situation (gender, race, etc) children learn first hand from their parents 

 

 

if someone said that statement to me- I would not even speak to the person, let alone give advise

Then why are you bothering to respond? headscratch.gif

post #5 of 39

A simple thing you can do is make sure that you are going places with your kids that are diverse.  I agree that you don't want to set up playdates with people you've chosen based on the color of their skin, but you could choose to shop or play in neighborhoods that are more diverse.  You could look for classes or groups that have more diversity too.  It sounds like she's reacting to cultural differences, and those are real.  I would talk about how different families do things differently, and if you let the superficial stuff keep you from getting to know someone you can miss out on meeting some pretty fabulous people.  

post #6 of 39

We live in a very homogeneous area, with a little more diversity amongst our homeschool and music network. My kids tend to be fairly shy and reticent in unfamiliar situations. Yet somehow they've grown up with none of the reaction you describe in your dd. Now, I live in Canada. I know there is racism here, but it tends to be private and subtle rather than ingrained in the cultural fabric, rather than being associated with socio-economic disadvantage. So perhaps that's some of it, the lack of a cultural overlay of race issues.

 

But I wonder if there are other factors. First, how we parents have modelled reactions to people of other cultures and ethnicities: we react with excitement at the opportunity to explore and take delight in differences and similarities. We're curious and optimistic and revel in whatever scant opportunities our life presents us ... so if there's a German or Japanese exchange student in town, we make a point of meeting them and getting to know them. When a Libyan family arrives we drop by to welcome them ... and to get to know them a bit. We seek out David the Ghanaian drummer at a workshop and ask him for more stories of his home culture. When we visit cities we steep ourselves in whatever cultural neighbourhoods we can find ... Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, what-have-you. We explore the cuisine and artistic traditions of various cultures when we're at home.

 

And secondly, my kids have been fortunate to have strong, long-lasting interests that have brought them into contact with children of other ethnicities with whom they share these interests and abilities ... so there's a bridge of commonality that invites connection. For instance, my middle kids' youth choir is made up mostly white kids of European descent, but they sing world music and travel to places where they connect through music with people of other cultures and ethnicities: they were recently in Cuba working with choirs there and sharing Afro-Cuban music, soaking up the culture and making friends. My 9-year-old has a friend of North African descent whom she looks forward to playing violin with and hanging out with every summer at our music camp. 

 

So I would seek out opportunities to nurture an attitude of delighted curiosity when faced with visible differences, and to forge personal connections that cross racial and ethnic boundaries.

 

Miranda

post #7 of 39

I have experienced this same thing,and am curious to hear other responses. The tough part is that I felt more comfortable with White ppl than Black ppl growing up. I am half black,half white,and grew up on a small island in the caribbean. In my experience, the white ppl in my life were always interested in me,and positive,while the black ppl were always negative,and would always tell me what i was doing wrong. So,for me, I was more drawn to white ppl,and actully a bit afraid of black ppl. Its rough to stereotyple like that,but from a kids' point of view,they are gonna be drawn to the group of ppl that treat them with the most respect and kindness.As I grew older,I realised it was also a cultural thing as well,because ppl in the islands have different interests and family values as ppl in the states,regardless of colour.Of coarse there are always exceptions to the rule,and those would be my friends.

Anyways,as for my children, they are mostly around white ppl,because all of our homeschool group is white(except for an adopted boy). When they told me they dont like black ppl, I was appalled and surprised! I was like, u know your grandpa is black,right? Not to mention your whole family,and your best friends!! They said yes,but that's because we know them. I really don't know what to say to that! I told them my experiences growing up,but also about stereotyping,and the like,so we'll see how they deal later on. As to another  poster's comments about the children following their parents, I don't think that's 100% true.I spend the most time with ppl who share my interests and views,and I doubt that if I were to hang around more black pp,the kids would change their views. I will teach them about strong black ppl in history,and how hard they had to fight in order to get the freedoms we experience today. However,as far as the friends they choose,that's up to them to find ppl who share their interests,regardless of race.

post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

your statement rubs me the wrong way- the real wrong way!

 

Perhaps I'm missing some cultural overlay here, because to me the original statement that you took offence to struck me nothing more than an acknowledgement of the fact that blacks and other visible minorities tend to face discrimination and thus enjoy less "privilege" in society.  

 

Miranda

post #9 of 39
Quote:
original statement that you took offence to struck me nothing more than an acknowledgement of the fact that blacks and other visible minorities tend to face discrimination and thus enjoy less "privilege" in society.  

 

original statement I replied to - 

 

Quote:
Quote:
Is she suddenly becoming aware of these social differences and clinging to the comfort of being privileged? 

I read this as SHE (about the posters child), not visible minorities and certainly not less "comfort in being"

 

 

to me if a young child feels they are privileged and or could possibly be,  that most likely means they feel above others and I feel this comes directly from their immediate surrounding (parents, family, social environment) I find it an highly offensive given the context of the post 

 

I do not believe children are born feeling "privileged" it is a learned expectance-IMO

 

If a child feels privileged is it no wonder they feel hostility towards others?

 

 

 

If one must question if their child is clinging to comfort of being privileged, it must be in their mind that they are of privilege-IMO

 

Using privileged in a post with racist questing/context comes across as just that-privileged! 

 

 

 

Is privilege offensive? to many yes, I am one of them

 

 

post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

to me if a young child feels they are privileged and or could possibly be,  that most likely means they feel above others

 

 

I think this is where you're getting off track. How does understanding one's own privilege equate to thinking one is above others? If anything, it would mean the opposite! 

post #11 of 39

a few years ago a political figure used a racist statement and the press jumped all over it, the person apologized - the normal stuff happened like when these things occur

 

a few people did question the phrase and how it just came out-it had been in the persons vernacular and was said with very little thought (very little thought was the exact thing the person said when justifying the remark) - using the term privileged as it was in the context of a discussion of this nature, is very much the same to me

post #12 of 39
Quote:
 How does understanding one's own privilege equate to thinking one is above others? 

 

 

what would the child be clinging to?

post #13 of 39

the whole post does not make the child seem like they are on an even par with other-thus the reason for a problem

 

if you felt equal there is no issue-no reason for a post

post #14 of 39

My children feel privileged to be growing up in Canada rather than a war-torn nation like Chechnya. If thrust into proximity with Chechen kids and their culture, they would likely cling to the reassuring knowledge that they are Canadian, and have a peaceful, stable country to go home to. They would recognize their privileged upbringing in an affluent western nation vs. Chechen children's underprivileged upbringing in their nation as being unfair ... but they wouldn't trade places with those kids in a million years, and they wouldn't relinquish their own privilege to try to equalize the unfairness. I think this is a pretty common way to react to injustice. That's the sentiment that I understood the original poster to be speculating about on her dd's behalf: recognizing differences in circumstances, empathizing with the underprivileged, and therefore feeling a combination of guilt and fear: guilt over one's privilege, and fear of losing it. 

 

Miranda

post #15 of 39
Quote:
My children feel privileged to be growing up in Canada rather than a war-torn nation like Chechnya. If thrust into proximity with Chechen kids and their culture, they would likely cling to the reassuring knowledge that they are Canadian, and have a peaceful, stable country to go home to. They would recognize their privileged upbringing in an affluent western nation vs. Chechen children's underprivileged upbringing in their nation as being unfair ... but they wouldn't trade places with those kids in a million years, and they wouldn't relinquish their own privilege to try to equalize the unfairness. I think this is a pretty common way to react to injustice. That's the sentiment that I understood the original poster to be speculating about on her dd's behalf: recognizing differences in circumstances, empathizing with the underprivileged, and therefore feeling a combination of guilt and fear: guilt over one's privilege, and fear of losing it. 

 

to me that use is totally different context

 

 

Do your children make prejudice remarks (as mentioned here) about other because they feel this privilege?  

 

post #16 of 39

A little girl who says she doesn't feel very comfortable with people who are different than her is hardly making "prejudice remarks." The child isn't calling herself "privileged" and better than others. That was the mother guessing and using the word as she attempts to understand her child.

post #17 of 39

I think it's also helpful to find media that portrays Black ppl in a positive light. TV is very white,and the few Black ppl in there,play minor roles. There's always the token black guy in movies,and the leading roles are almost always taken up by white ppl. The fact that Red Tails was the first ALL black cast in a major action movie,blows me away! This movie just came out,last yr,was it?? I sent my kids to see that movie,and they loved it! I also got this cartoon,Kirikou,of this little african baby that saves his tribe,it's cute! I also watched this documentary called Hidden Colors,which goes into  how racism started up,and why,and I will show it to my kids so that they are aware of how things got to be the way they are. 

It IS difficult to teach them understanding when the whole homeschool group is white,but I think the media choices,experiencing different music,educating them,and constant communication about the topic,helps.

post #18 of 39
Quote:
A little girl who says she doesn't feel very comfortable with people who are different than her is hardly making "prejudice remarks." 

 

 

Quote:
She said that she did not like "their voices."  

referring to one is not the same as making a remark against a group- that is stereotyping of behavior towards others

post #19 of 39

double post


Edited by moominmamma - 6/9/12 at 11:37am
post #20 of 39

I agree that the child's comment is stereotyping and veering towards the slippery slope of racism. And good on the mom for taking it seriously and being very concerned, wanting to do something to change this. Where I don't agree with you is that the mother's characterization of the child's possible underlying attitude of "clinging to privilege" is racist. I really don't get why you're coming down so negatively on the mom. She was stunned by her child's comment, expressed her immediate disapproval (to such an extent the the child actually shut down emotionally, for better or for worse) and posted here for help in making positive changes. She was confused about where her dd's attitude was coming from, and floated some speculative ideas as to where its roots might lie. I didn't read her speculation as racist at all.

 

Miranda

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