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post #21 of 145
I have a white son and a biracial son. My husband and in-laws are black. I was a black studies undergrad. It *really* matters to me that Obama is the first black president, and my kids know how important this is.
My kids also know about slavery, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, and racism. They know that women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked for decades to win the right to vote. My little guy figured out what "black" and "white" meant by 2.5 without being told. He is happy that a man like him, with a black father ("like daddy!") is our new president. And so am I.
post #22 of 145
Quote:
Well, to be fair, there have only been 55 presidential elections in our nations history. Only 55. I understand that there has never been a black, woman, non christian etc... president but, there have only been 55 elections. I understand what you're saying and I agree this nation has a long way to go but, I think it's very important to point out to children that there are a lot of non white, non christian men and women serving in high offices in this nation.
What?? Only 55 elections? Spanning hundreds of years?!? I'm sorry, I don't agree with what's implied here at all. The word only does not apply. Think of it in terms of statistics and population.

~America is roughly 50% female.

~15% of the population over age 5 has at least one disability

~78,000,000 Americans are not white (and this continues to grow)

~25% are non Christian (and this continues to grow)


Yet, until now, NONE of these populations has EVER been represented in the white house by a president. None. That's not coincidence, and it wasn't a mistake. How is that "fair"? To anybody?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pigpokey
I seriously doubt it is time to introduce the history of the country and various ugly mistakes to my children who have not developed enough to be able to hold the concepts in their minds accurately and are prone to illogical acts of generalization and fantasy. If you still believe that Santa Claus flies all over the earth in one night on magic reindeer and comes down everyone's chimneys I have no idea what you would make of skin color politics. .... I think planting notions of fear and hate and problems they cannot solve in their tender years in no way advances that.
I think you grossly underestimate your children. At 3 and 5 they are certainly old enough to know that people are sometimes treated unfairly for BS reasons, one of which is their skin color. It can be introduced the same as sharing toys or not yelling at other children.

3, 5, and 6 (some ages mentioned on this thread by mothers choosing not to address race) are old enough to understand fairness, respect, and even racism. They're old enough to understand that some people didn't want Obama elected just because he was black.

And to clarify, no one here said that Obama's skin color is black. I'm pretty sure we're all aware of the varying shades and hues. But he has identified himself publicly as a "Black" man, and in our society, Black is a racial identifier, not the actual or perceived tone of one's skin.

Lucky to all of you who don't "have" to address race at all with your children. I guess.



Ruthla, that's why I chose my wording carefully. It was not a well known fact that he was in a wheelchair--in fact, great measures were taken to conceal this. http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/poliop23.html
post #23 of 145
I disagree that color blindness in 4 y/os is a matter of white privilege. Ds encounters people of different races all the time and has never noticed. At this point in his life I think that makes sense. He doesn't understand time in a way that would allow him to appreciate history. I could impress upon him how important and wonderful this moment is and what a step for racial equality in the US, but...he doesn't really know what the US is, he doesn't hear people being described as black or white except as a desciptive factor. I don't want to talk about racial injustice right now because I'm afraid what he would get is white people used to be mean to black people and just be confused. I tend to talk about things like this in a complicated way and then hope he gradually gains understanding as he matures.
Ds is almost 5 and certainly isn't the most precocious or mature child. I'm thinking he will be 13 by the time Barack is done being president so we have time to talk about the importance of this presidency as well as about when we all went to vote in the fire house.
Just my feelings. I do think it's cool that some of you are so proactive in teaching your children about racism and history. I think we can all agree that today is a great day for the US!
post #24 of 145
If it weren't for the history of racism (specifically in the US, but I'm writing this as a Canadian who understands it's more widespread than one country), would Obama even *need* to be identified as being Black?

Because of the history, it is an amazing feat that a black man has been elected president. But if true equality existed, couldn't he *just as accurately* be described as being (culturally) white or of mixed race? Every time I hear of him being described simply as 'black' it makes me think of the old way of thought, where anyone with a drop of 'black blood' was automatically black and of a lesser status.

If anyone can point out the error in my thoughts, I'd be happy to have it explained!

Erica
post #25 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by plantmama View Post
I disagree that color blindness in 4 y/os is a matter of white privilege. Ds encounters people of different races all the time and has never noticed.
I am a white woman raising white children in a predominantly white area. I agree that children aren't naturally biased against someone based on their skin colour, any more than they automatically dislike someone with blonde hair or with green eyes. But I do fully believe that I get away with not delving into racism and related issues because of my white (heterosexual/middle class etc) priviledge. There have been many threads on MDC about people having to explain hatred to their children - a young black male who is discriminated against, for example. In my area, aboriginal children grow up with racism as a part of their every day lives - it doesn't need to be taught about, it's clearly there. My children don't *have* to understand racism while still preschoolers, and there is absolutely an element of priviledge in that.

Erica
post #26 of 145
I think to solely focus on the fact that he is the "first African-American president" does him a disservice to what he, as an individual, has accomplished. I like how Colin Powell put it - "...did not put himself forward as an African-American President. He put himself forward as an American who happened to be black; who happened to be African-American." That being said, it will be talked about around this house at length. DD Is very into civil rights, Rosa Parks, Rev. MLK Jr. and I know she'll want to discuss it.
post #27 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookieMonsterMommy View Post
I think you grossly underestimate your children. At 3 and 5 they are certainly old enough to know that people are sometimes treated unfairly for BS reasons, one of which is their skin color. It can be introduced the same as sharing toys or not yelling at other children.
I believe the issue has been raised in passing as a historical fact. But I think comparing racism to toy sharing or yelling is a pretty big reach. It would not occur to my children to give skin color significance among playmates any more than my son should treat my daughter differently because he is blond and she is a brunette. It would occur to them to horde a toy or yell at another child.
Quote:
3, 5, and 6 (some ages mentioned on this thread by mothers choosing not to address race) are old enough to understand fairness, respect, and even racism.
Well they certainly are not old enough to understand adult racism and they have no reason to see adult or child racial hate so I fail to understand why they should be burdened with it at this point. They have many skin colors and historical origins represented in their various networks and give it about the same importance as caucasian hair color. Period. We live in a nice place and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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They're old enough to understand that some people didn't want Obama elected just because he was black.
Since I have no idea who those people are or when we might meet them, you know, I might as well tell them bedtime stories about the Klan or the Holocaust.
Quote:
And to clarify, no one here said that Obama's skin color is black. I'm pretty sure we're all aware of the varying shades and hues. But he has identified himself publicly as a "Black" man, and in our society, Black is a racial identifier, not the actual or perceived tone of one's skin.
And I'm hoping that Obama's indirect mark on the country is that we stop with the racial identifiers.
Quote:

Lucky to all of you who don't "have" to address race at all with your children. I guess.
I am lucky but I also have made choices that allow me to raise my kids here. I also believe that the mothers of non-white 3 and 5 year olds in my immediate community do not have to know about racial prejudice as a matter of safety at ages 3 and 5. When they are older and interacting independently with a larger world, maybe.
post #28 of 145
My son & I are white, living in a predominantly white area, & I have stressed to him how historic it is to have elected the first black president. He knows that it means something. Forty years or so ago Obama could not have voted, & he WON the presidency. That is huge.

I was telling my nephew that today- he is eight- & he said, we are all the same to God. I said, that is so true- & having Obama as president will hopefully make the racists & the closet racists in this country realize that we really are all the same inside.

It is still a huge deal that we elected the first black president though- I can't imagine NOT mentioning that.
post #29 of 145
Fact has it that Obama is the first brown skinned president. Growing up biracial in the inner city, my kids most definitely notice and mention that Obama looks like the people that they see, that are in their family.

of course kids see color around them....if it is there. and if it isn't, than that is because they live in a predominantly white area, where they don't have to notice.

If Clinton were elected president last night, would you explain the historical significance of her being the first woman president to your child???
do you think that children notice gender?
would your daughters notice that the woman at the podium looked like them, and what would you say to them?
post #30 of 145
Thread Starter 
one of my main thoughts on the matter was and is, i realize that in the past there have been tremendous cruel actions brought upon people of different races,religion , sexual orientation ect (part of my family was in a concentration camp while part was royalty but i hardly feel the need to discuss it at every turn). but with young children doesn't it do a disservice to them to teach them to be hung up on those factors. is it better to let them grow up seeing this as a normalcy? is this how we move forward as a people by letting our children see diversity as being normal instead of making a big to do about it. inside i am hanging from the rafters, i want to cry every time io see barack on tv because i am so proud of our country and honored to be able to see this period of time. but of you ask DS what his friends look like he tells you about thier hieght, hair , clothes and so on . he never says what color they are, i don't think it occurs to him and i don't want to shatter that, i would rather him learn in school as he gets older about the terrible things that have happenned in the past and learn about tolerance and equality now. just my thoughts. and ladies lets not get catty.... this is an honest question that i was curious about not a debate .
post #31 of 145
I have always stocked our house full of books that cover a variety of cutures, religions and races. Unfortunately, we live in a place where there isn't much diversity. My 8 and 6 yo's know all about segregation and the civil rights movement from books and movies. The last long car ride we took a few weeks ago they started talking election and my 6yo said "mom, why would someone not vote for Barack Obama because of his skin color? That seems silly" and so we went into that one pretty deeply.

I think information is more easily received, and better understood, when the question comes from the kid. I'd probably answer their questions because I would see and understand the childs process better, and they would be ready to understand the deeper meaning -rather than give them TMI.

Eventually it will be the question of the day.
post #32 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by dewlady View Post
If Clinton were elected president last night, would you explain the historical significance of her being the first woman president to your child???
Good comparison. No I would not. I would treat it as normal at this age.
Quote:
do you think that children notice gender?
They try but my children (gifted 3 and 5 year olds) are VERY BAD at determining whether someone is male or female. They go by things like hair length (long = female) and clothes and really bomb out all the time. They just aren't little adults.
Quote:
would your daughters notice that the woman at the podium looked like them, and what would you say to them?
One of our best family friends is a female politician. I do not think my children think anything of it one way or the other. These are all life choices, one that Obama can exemplify for brown skinned boys in the US.
post #33 of 145
The thing is, it isn't normal. It's historic, and incredible, and so meaningful to all the people who have never before had a reason to believe that someone like them could ever be in such a position.

My kids -- especially my six year old -- watch the news with me. There's no avoiding a discussion of race, and I wouldn't WANT to avoid it. I don't think it's hard for a young child to understand that for years, black people have been treated badly and judged negatively because of their skin color -- and that President Obama exemplifies the fact that, while things are still far from perfect, nothing is off-limits for them now.
post #34 of 145
Please, try to stay with me here. I'm very tired. I'm going on limited sleep. We were at the final Obama rally in Virginia on Monday and didn't get home until nearly 2 am; we worked the polls all day Tuesday and couldn't sleep again until 2 or 3 am...I will try to be coherent. And, I will try to stay calm. Both, at the moment, might be a little difficult.

My children do not have the luxury of being colorblind. My little boys (ages 9 and 6) have looked at the pictures of the last 43 presidents and noticed that none look like them. They know that Barack Obama is the *only* Black senator (there's not as much diversity on the Hill as we'd like to think) They know that we had presidents who owned slaves. They know that mommy and daddy couldn't have gotten married in Virginia 45 years ago. They know that there are people who don't like them simply because their skin is darker, and that sometimes, things aren't quite fair...simply because their skin is darker.

Last night, my daughter and I went to a victory party. We were happily eating buffalo wings, cheering lightly as the Dems got one seat after another. Then, they called Virginia for Obama. I stood up. I cheered. I screamed. And then I started sobbing. I had to sit down. Virginia. Virginia voted for a Black man.

The first slaves arrived in Virginia. The capital of the Confederacy is in Virginia. There were school systems that completely closed down for years so they wouldn't have to integrate. We had a senator who hung a noose from a tree in his office and pretended it was a lasso. There's still a slave block in the town where I grew up, about a block away from where Sarah Palin recently held a rally.

My husband and I were threatened when we started dating in high school. My parents were threatened. My last name, my married name, is the same as the man, the plantation owner, known in Virginia as "King Carter". Guess why.

So I cried. Then they called it for the nation, almost immediately, and the man next to me collapsed in tears. And my 13-year-old daughter suddenly stopped cheering, and just stood there, with tears streaming down her face. Because she knows exactly what this means.

This is beyond huge. To not acknowledge the significance of this election, to pretend it's "normal", does a massive disservice to this country, to Barack Obama, to the people who died not just so Obama could become president but so he could simply receive an education, and to--yes--my children. Who didn't have the chance nor the choice to be "colorblind".

Let your children celebrate the whole of this election.
post #35 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by pigpokey View Post
I wouldn't call his skin color black to my children because he's not very dark. We do have friends with truly black skin and we have friends who stay out of the sun and remind me that my skin actually is white. Obama is neither.

He has a father from Africa and a mother with white skin. I don't talk about "race" with the kids. At 3 and 5 it has no application to their lives. When they are older, they will be able to understand it in its contexts and hopefully the concept will be less and less important in the next couple of decades.

What they know: Variable skin color largely is about how much sun your ancestors were able to be exposed to. If you lived where it was cold and further from the equator, you needed lighter skin to stay healthy. Dark skin helped when people got a lot of sun. Now that we have airplanes, phones, etc. people do not stay where their parents live as often so people of all skin colors live in our city.
But the significance of his presidency, what makes it historic, isn't because of the biological manifestation that is his skin color. It's about the historical significance of what it means to be a black (or brown, if you have to be specific) person in the United States.

Choosing to "not see race" or only see it as a biological manifestation (which it is, but it's also much, much more) is a byproduct of white privilege. People of color cannot just decide that the color of their skin doesn't matter. It does- it matters in how they have been treated. It matters in how their parents and ancestors were treated. It influences just about every part of their life. It shouldn't but it does.

I don't think we are doing our children any favors when we (and when I say we I mean fellow white people) decide that race doesn't matter. We can think that it shouldn't matter. But to declare that it doesn't is grossly dismissive of the realities that people of color face and have faced. It dismisses all of the insidious racism that permeates every institution- our schools, the justice system, the media, banking, housing, you name it.

I have never heard a person of color say that race doesn't matter. It's always white people who claim this. I think that we need to start listening more and really honoring the experiences of others. It's laudable to want to raise anti-racist children. I am striving to do that. The way we do that is to acknowledge, listen and learn, not to dismiss and pretend that the social implications of race don't exist. I am teaching DD that there is no biological basis for race, but that the social hierarchies built around it are very real and very powerful.
post #36 of 145
Missy and swimswamswum
post #37 of 145
My son is 6 and I have discussed racism and slavery with him in the past, but I did not go into depth. I made it a point this morning to tell him how important this election is, and how glad I was. He is just starting to notice differences in appearance, body size, skin color etc. So I feel this is the ideal time to talk about it.
post #38 of 145
Damn skippy I made a big deal about it. My 3 year old is not mature enough to understand (or at least for me to know if he does or not - he's not very verbal). Anyhow - my kids aren't colorblind, and I'm perfectly happy with that. This was an important, historic event, and I want them to remember it as such.
post #39 of 145
i didnt make it the focus, instead i made it on his policies and his brilliance and great family and upbringing-but yes, we did discuss it alot. It was especially meaningful for dd as we have doing alot of reading and research lately on Harriet Tubman, MLKjr, and the civil rights movement in general. She has all these things fresh in her mind, and so i think she really understands how poignent and special and groundbreaking that aspect of this election is. (as much as she can at 6) She is very proud to have pushed the "cast your vote" button for me

to clarify-i did make it one of the focus', just not the *only* focus. i too wept when he won, during the singing of the ssbanner, during his speech. This morning watching cnn This afternoon.

i love him. absolutely love him. he is a remarkable man, the real deal. he is going to do great things.
post #40 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Missy View Post
Please, try to stay with me here. I'm very tired. I'm going on limited sleep. We were at the final Obama rally in Virginia on Monday and didn't get home until nearly 2 am; we worked the polls all day Tuesday and couldn't sleep again until 2 or 3 am...I will try to be coherent. And, I will try to stay calm. Both, at the moment, might be a little difficult.

My children do not have the luxury of being colorblind. My little boys (ages 9 and 6) have looked at the pictures of the last 43 presidents and noticed that none look like them. They know that Barack Obama is the *only* Black senator (there's not as much diversity on the Hill as we'd like to think) They know that we had presidents who owned slaves. They know that mommy and daddy couldn't have gotten married in Virginia 45 years ago. They know that there are people who don't like them simply because their skin is darker, and that sometimes, things aren't quite fair...simply because their skin is darker.

Last night, my daughter and I went to a victory party. We were happily eating buffalo wings, cheering lightly as the Dems got one seat after another. Then, they called Virginia for Obama. I stood up. I cheered. I screamed. And then I started sobbing. I had to sit down. Virginia. Virginia voted for a Black man.

The first slaves arrived in Virginia. The capital of the Confederacy is in Virginia. There were school systems that completely closed down for years so they wouldn't have to integrate. We had a senator who hung a noose from a tree in his office and pretended it was a lasso. There's still a slave block in the town where I grew up, about a block away from where Sarah Palin recently held a rally.

My husband and I were threatened when we started dating in high school. My parents were threatened. My last name, my married name, is the same as the man, the plantation owner, known in Virginia as "King Carter". Guess why.

So I cried. Then they called it for the nation, almost immediately, and the man next to me collapsed in tears. And my 13-year-old daughter suddenly stopped cheering, and just stood there, with tears streaming down her face. Because she knows exactly what this means.

This is beyond huge. To not acknowledge the significance of this election, to pretend it's "normal", does a massive disservice to this country, to Barack Obama, to the people who died not just so Obama could become president but so he could simply receive an education, and to--yes--my children. Who didn't have the chance nor the choice to be "colorblind".

Let your children celebrate the whole of this election.
thank you.
ita.
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