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White Anti-Racist Parents

post #1 of 377
Thread Starter 
Hi...I'm not excluding people of color from this discussion, I just think us white people have different parenting issues when it comes to raising our children in a racist culture.

Just wondering, how do you help your children NOT to learn racism. I happen to live in a pretty white area and it is a challenge for me to balance all the messages my children are getting in the media. How do you talk to really young children about racism? Anybody know any good books or have experience on this topic?
post #2 of 377
The best way to combat racism is to teach your children that every person is a human being first and foremost.
Then to develop close relationships with people of color.
When you have good friends that are people of color, it is more difficult for a person to continue to be racist or ignorant of others.

Just my 2 cents.
post #3 of 377
I never thought about "teaching" about racism- I just teach that people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. That's as much as my ds understands.

As my girls got older, and were exposed to racism/discrimination from reading a newspaper, or something they saw on TV, they asked questions and I answered them.
post #4 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmama
I happen to live in a pretty white area and it is a challenge for me to balance all the messages my children are getting in the media. How do you talk to really young children about racism? Anybody know any good books or have experience on this topic?
Right now, it looks like your kids are young enough for you to avoid racist media or for you to discuss the biases you see together.
post #5 of 377
My ds came home from the sitter's one day saying, "I like white people better than black people." Now, at that point we'd never really had conversations about race. He'd been exposed to people of many races since birth as our circle of friends, neighbors, family and his baby sitters all include several ppl of color. He is actually mixed-race but he isn't aware as he looks caucasion and the birth father is out of the picture. I was shocked and sad and well, didn't quite know what to do.

As he and I discussed his comment - including the fact that he is mixed-race (decided there was no time like the present) - I discovered that the event which triggered it was this....his sitter's daughters are black and he was mad at one of them because she disciplined him that day for hitting another child. It was pretty simple, pretty basic. I'm still rather amazed at how he took that and generalized it to "black people" instead of just "brittney".
We talked a lot about it, about this generalization he'd made and about his anger...and his behavior.

All in all it was just an interesting situation. One that, considering our circle of life, I never really thought we'd encounter.
post #6 of 377
But isn't cultivating friends just because they are black just as bad as ignoring people just because they are black?
post #7 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishmommy
But isn't cultivating friends just because they are black just as bad as ignoring people just because they are black?
:

I've heard people say - to my face, mind - that all white people are racist, even those that think they aren't. It was a little more confrontational than necessary, but there's an element of truth in it - all people (white or not) have biases, often hidden. With that in mind, part of white I try to do with dd is ferret out and acknowledge that I have some prejudice, no matter how much I'd like to think otherwise.

I will admit to trying to vary the places we go, even for the grocery store or what have you. We live 'on the edge' of a very white enclave, but by making the decision to drive five minutes in the opposite direction, I can make sure that she sees more than one skin tone.

That said, it wasn't until she started watching Reading Rainbow that she realised there were 'black' people and 'white' people. Until then, dh & I were 'pink people'!
post #8 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishmommy
But isn't cultivating friends just because they are black just as bad as ignoring people just because they are black?
Just want to gently point out that the issue is not just black and white. There are many different people in this world. Hundreds of different cultures, languages, and customs.

I, personally, have never 'cultivated' friendships or any kind of relationship. Nor have I made the conscious decision to 'ignore' people who are not the same as myself.
post #9 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies
And the fact that you would use the words "cultivate" and "ignore" show your thinking quite well.
Really? I'd love to hear your take on my opinions. Seriously.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies
Then to develop close relationships with people of color.
Develop, cultivate, what's the diff?
post #10 of 377
Claryfying my thinking - most 'white' people who are openly racist do not even try to get to know a person of color. They do not even take a moment to say, "Hi!" or acknowledge them as another human being. They do not attend cultural events. They continue to believe in their minds that everyone else is inferior to them, kwim?
post #11 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishmommy
But isn't cultivating friends just because they are black just as bad as ignoring people just because they are black?
i think that sort of attitude is only a problem if it is really as shallow as choosing your friends based on their skin color... to the point where you neglect to look deeply enough to appreciate that person (or people) for who they are.

at the same time, i don't think there is a problem with seeking a diverse community. i DON'T think that it is in the nature of ANYONE (white or otherwise) to be racist.
post #12 of 377
My 3yo has just started asking questions about race and culture. There are very few black people where I live, but there are lots of Mexicans and many local businesses where nobody speaks English. To be honest sometimes I don't shop in those stores because I'm embarassed that my Spanish is bad.

A few weeks ago dd heard kids on the playground speaking Spanish and wanted to know what they were saying. Then the other day waiting for the bus we heard a woman speaking Spanish so I told her my daugher was learning Spanish. She looked at dd and said "hola, nina", and my little girl hid underneath my skirt. So, that didn't go very well, but then I told dd that her Care Bears could speak Spanish too and switched the language on her DVD and she thought that was great.

Anyhow, I like Patchfire's advice about making an effort to go places that are more ethnically diverse. It is uncomfortable to suddenly be in the minority or unable to speak the language myself, and it wouldn't hurt for both me and dd to be a little more brave about crossing cultural boundaries.

--AmyB
post #13 of 377
I'm glad these came up. I hope it comes to some good. I made a slightly infamous post in the "are you afraid of black people" thread last year. In it I acknowldged that I was aware that I was sometimes fearful of black men in situations where I was pretty sure I would not have been fearful if they were white. I also mentioned that I wasn't sure how to work on that since where I lived there simply are not very many blacks. Many Asians and Pacific Islanders but almost no blacks or Hispanics.

So... moved to Manhattan. My daughters kindergarten class (first day today!) is like a UN. Standing on the schoolyard waiting for her to come out I heard at least 7 different languages. So far she barely seems to notice racial differences. If a child she meets at the playground doesn't speak English she is curious what language they do speak and where they are from.

Sorry, I got a little blah blah blah for a minute there... what I guess I am getting at is that I think a lot can be gained by intentionaly seeking out situations of diversity for yourself and your young children, expose them to varied situations and various people. I think there is a lot to be gained by making sure you don't speak to or otherwise deal with people of other races differently than you deal with members of your own.
post #14 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies
Claryfying my thinking - most 'white' people who are openly racist do not even try to get to know a person of color. They do not even take a moment to say, "Hi!" or acknowledge them as another human being. They do not attend cultural events. They continue to believe in their minds that everyone else is inferior to them, kwim?
That's clarifying your thinking, not clarifying your comments about my posts.

And here saying "people of colour" is not exactly common. It's not a phrase used here, so not one I am comfortable with. In fact, the one time I used it on this board, I got called on it.
post #15 of 377
as a woman that looks asian- i feel like an americain, cant help how i look, i have to say that i would rather people NOT befriend me because i am asian, or my dh and i are interracial, than DO because they want the "im not rasist "quota. we can tell when people are just too excited to know the mixed couple, they will have us to mention in conversation to prove they are not rasist- ohh, were not rasist, we are friends with...us. many times it is not a problem for long because i am not asian enough for them so they dump us. strangley enough though, when see we other mixed couples of the same-white guy ,asain woman, young baby we almost always smile at each other, its like the long hair club, long hair guys nod at each other in passing, specially if they are harley or hotroders, dh is a long hair-more sensative ponytail man than harley guy but he does get and give the nod, i get it too when i drive the old 77 hotrod, but i am also longhaird. ohh and now a new one, people love to know the HOMEBIRTHERS! "yes,i know someone who homebirthed, my friend..." im sure lots of us know that one.....
post #16 of 377
Ok, just a funny story for comic relief. My 4yo ds goes to a preschool that is very diverse - his 3yo class had 3 black kids, 3 East Indians, 2 kids from Israel, 1 from Japan, etc. One day I went to pick him up, and there was a new little East Indian girl in his class. I said, "Oh! Who's your new friend? He pointed to the only other East Indian girl and said, "That's Aishu." "I know Aishu, but who's this little girl?" "Um. The OTHER Aishu." And here I was congratulating myself on how color-blind he was!
post #17 of 377
Just my $0.02.....I never use the phrase "person of color"......I feel like its a "tippy-toe" phrase that indeed should stop being used.....I think sometimes it points to and I say sometimes it points to a level of discomfort....I mean I am caucasian I mean fair fair fair and I am still a "color" Its just cheesy.....OK enough about that....


I think one of the best ways to handle racism is to NOT make it a lesson until they ask......No one needs to tell a child to like someone or not.They are in fact some of the best examples of unconditional love towards one another. My parents never taught me one way or another and you simply grow up believing there is no difference.NOW should questions and issues arise surrounding race-which they are bound to do so as we are a VERY rascist country then it should be handled openly and honestly and compassionately-BUT not in a manor that would in ANY way give way to ANY sort of inferior thinking like "feeling sorry" for the black boy down the street or the hispanic kid who doesnt speak great english because I think that can backfire too.Of course we feel for any minority classified but our children may recieve that in a different way........Did that make sense?
post #18 of 377
One thing I do is not make it a black and white issue. Racism is not just against black people. It is like water that flows every way.
When we make it solely one color we ignore many others. We ignore issues that are intertwine on how to treat people.

We treat all people with respect. The same respect should go to all people in spite of looks, beliefs, age, or sexual orinations. It is a whole thing about being a good person and treating others well.

I have sat in shock when talking to an AA friend that uses the words "sp*c and d*go". I don't want my kids to be this way. I don't want the to say any of these words, not just the n word. I don't want them to think it is OK to say "I Jew'ed them down." I want them to see it all being wrong no matter whose mouth it comes from.
post #19 of 377
Unfortunately, my grandmother and older aunts and uncles are racist, I've heard each of them use the N word more than I'd like to admit, they even refer to Native Americans as Prairie N*****s...even though we are Native American.. so this will be an issue we'll have to deal with as the girls get older.

Our "plan" is to just teach our children that everyone is equal, and everyone deserves respect, and that treating someone differently because of race, religion, sexual orientation isnt something to do.
post #20 of 377
If you are interested in learning childrens perception of race and culture, teaching for change is a wonderful resource. Go to catalog for items.

I grew up multi-cultural and was always amused how each culture percieved one another. Oh, and the jokes! I also gained insight that others probably don't understand. Multicultural people deal with things like what are you? or are you? Then the list of cultures. I am rambling, but my sister and I have a very open accepting view of all the world and my brother is the opposite. I agree with not "teaching it" or the push to go to other areas to learn culture, but some places like mine, race is a daily issue and I feel teaching tolerance can't hurt. But, its hard!! Like the slogan, "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance"
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