How do you handle being the object of racism/sectarianism with your kids? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 07-12-2009, 02:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A bit early for this yet, as DD's only 1.5 but I'm trying to get my head round it. It's July 12 today, which means Orange parades. I'm Irish, newly living in ********* where there is a fairly large Irish diaspora, but also back-lash against that, i.e. Orangemen and the like.

We were in the back garden today when we heard the Orange marching band. DD loves music and was jumping and pointing excitedly. I said "Yes, I hear the music. But the people playing it wouldn't like me or you very much." I regretted saying it as soon as I had, but it got me thinking.

How on earth do you explain to little kids that people they've never met might not like them just because of where their parents came from or what heritage they have? Any mamas with experience of this? How do you handle it? I want DD to be aware but not embittered, if that makes sense..

Lisa - mama to Eleanor Rose 01/08 and Saoirse Lily 09/10
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#2 of 4 Old 07-12-2009, 04:55 PM
 
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Why tell her at all? She didn't need to know that the people might not like you - you couldn't even be sure that you would be disliked.
I wouldn't want her to carry that kind of knowledge around from such a young age; it's not like you're going to be targeted and shunned every day of the week. How you choose to relay the history is up to you, but if my Mother had told me to expect people to view me differently and to expect to be singled out, then I surely would see that - whether it was actually happening or not.

Racism, separatism, it's there, it's grotesque, but especially as you're living in England now and aren't living in the same environment, I just don't see how it's going to feature so significantly in her life that she will need to be prepared for it? I wouldn't want to put the idea of alienation in her head, let her live free of it for as long as possible.
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#3 of 4 Old 07-12-2009, 05:06 PM
 
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I get this. In a perfect world you could just not say anything but in truth if we don't tell our children what some people out there really think of us there could be some major trouble for them when they are on their own.

When I was about 6 my grandmother had custody of me and she managed an apartment complex. I am mixed- my mother and her family is white and my father either AA or Middle Eastern (not sure of my paternity there). Needless to say I don't look white. I remember when we had some neo Nazis move into the apartment complex my grandparents sat me down and had to explain that some people do not like me because of the color of my skin. They explained this, they said, because they didn't want me going anywhere near their apartment when I was out playing. It didn't take long for these people to evicted for their ways (they liked to party and became very violent more than once) but while they were there I knew I was suppose to go near them.

Now as to *how* you explain this to little kids I have no idea how one could do that without hurting them in some way. But you know hurting them may just be a fact of life. I'd rather they know and be prepared, ykwim? The sad truth is racism often times isn't something you can just ignore or go meerily on your way. I wish. But people don't just leave it at that.

Sorry I don't have any advice really.

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#4 of 4 Old 07-12-2009, 05:28 PM
 
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I don't know that you need to talk about it with kids under 2.

But the blunt reality is that in pretty much every country/culture I can think of, there is plenty of uncomfortable history in there.

Once my kids were preschool age, we started to talk about "other stories" alongside the traditional holidays. A big one in the US (IMO) is Thanksgiving. We started learning more about the first people in the area where the settlers came, and how there were many native american nations who had different languages and customs in different areas, just like there were people from many different parts of europe who made up the different colonies and settlements in the colonial era. Once my kids were able to ask what happened to the native american nations, we've been weaving in the not so nice aspects of the story.

This 4th of July for the first time we also explored different aspects of the revolutionary war as well. How the separatist colonists did not win on their own (they had significant help from France), how not all the colonists agreed and that there was a bit of fighting amongst the colonists in addition to the colonists against the ruling government. And how in war many times people do evil things to one another--and our revolutionary war was no different, even though we believe that we needed to fight that war to bring about our country, we shouldn't forget that it comes at a very high cost.

My kids are old enough to ask questions about stuff they hear about on the radio. Because of the U.S election this past year, they had a lot of questions about what a Mormon was (and why people were saying they didn't like them), what people meant when they said that they wanted a "Christian" leader and how come some people said that so and so wasn't a "real" Christian, ect. So we talked about and learned about some of the history of sectarian violence and prejudice in our country as well.

I don't really see how you can avoid talking about sectarian violence when it's been a significant part of modern history. But I also think it's a good idea to take it slow, do some guiding but mostly take your cues from the kids.

I don't know how history is taught in other countries, but in the U.S. it's extremely shoddy, shockingly so considering how relatively young our country is! I see so many people being misled or ignorant of our own history and that leading in to further problems. You could avoid ever talking about historical events and tensions with your kids, but you can't avoid them finding out about it.
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