Would you explain race to a five-year-old? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 33 Old 08-16-2010, 01:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AmaraMonillas View Post
I think it is very important to explain the difference between ethnicity (which I understand as relating to cultural affiliation and country/region of family orgin) and race (categories defined by physical characteristics which often, inaccurately, are used as synonyms for cultural groups).
Yes, I used the word "race" for this reason. My daughter is aware of cultural differences and languages, but was unaware about the somewhat arbitrary divisions that people use to describe people of different skin tones and hair colors (among other things). Race may be a social construct, but it's one that can be very challenging and divisive, hence the initial question.

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#32 of 33 Old 08-16-2010, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post
One thing I am concerned about is the "guilty white" tendency to romanticize people of other races, especially because there aren't very many AAs around here for my kids to know on a personal level. I want them to be aware of stereotypes and racism, but I also don't want them to think of black people as this poor, down-trodden group that should be treated differently. Does that make sense?
I'm not sure what you meant, so please forgive me in advance if I'm misreading into it.

It depends on what you mean by treated differently.
I'm sure that you're aware that many folks are now taking the stance that because Obama's president, suddenly everyone's on an equal playing field and racism no longer exists. So naturally, when they see that particular racial groups of people ARE still living at a socioeconomic disadvantage- then *certainly* their condition must be due to some internal deficit of character they possess and not due to a legacy of oppression they've inherited.

IOW, if you don't acknowledge that these obstacles to social mobility were systemically put in place, then you are in fact strengthening negative stereotypes and racist attitudes.
What you want is to find a balance between treating people as the fellow human beings that they are and having an understanding of the limitations that have been placed on them.

ETA- Acknowledging oppression in other groups doesn't mean that you're expected to feel guilty.
Perhaps not the best example but...
Whenever I encounter an immigrant who doesn't speak English, I usually try to assist them by interpreting for them. I don't do this because I think I'm superior to them nor because I feel guilty in any way, but simply because I know that in this particular area I've had an advantage.

As I stated, this isn't a great example because, of course, there are plenty of African-Americans who are doing socioeconomically very well just as there are immigrants who can manage English just fine. I'm just trying to convey that one doesn't have to feel guilt nor pity in order to acknowledge other people's disadvantages.

I do want to also add that my response focused on African-Americans exclusively because it was in response to your post- which btw I think is the typical direction the conversation takes because of our country's history of slavery. But really the discussion about race should include other races, not just blacks and whites.
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#33 of 33 Old 08-19-2010, 12:37 PM
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Coming very late into the conversation, I think it's more important to discuss different cultures that people have before discussing race. For me, only talking about the color of one's skin/eyes/hair is meaningless without the bigger issue of culture, nationality, and prejudice.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
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