teaching acceptance for diversity - Mothering Forums
View Poll Results: Do you meet diverse people in your daily life?
We live in a homogenous area, and our own social / homeschooling circle is also homogenous 5 26.32%
We live in a homogenous area, but our own social / homeschooling circle is more diverse than average for our area. 5 26.32%
We live in a diverse area and our own social / homeschooling is fairly diverse. 4 21.05%
We live in a diverse area but our own social / homeschooling is not very diverse. 5 26.32%
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#1 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.


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#2 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 07:36 AM
 
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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


 

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#3 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 07:50 AM
 
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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.  


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#4 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 07:52 AM
 
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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


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#5 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 07:57 AM
 
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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.  

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#6 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 08:32 AM
 
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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.

 

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#7 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 08:45 AM
 
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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.

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#8 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 10:11 AM
 
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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.  

 

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#9 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 04:43 PM
 
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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 - 

 

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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

 

 


 

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#10 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 05:11 PM
 
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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! 

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#11 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 05:14 PM
 
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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


 

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#12 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 05:15 PM
 
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 How does understanding one's own privilege equate to thinking one is above others? 

 

 

what would the child be clinging to?


 

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#13 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 05:18 PM
 
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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


 

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#14 of 39 Old 06-08-2012, 06:18 PM
 
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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. 

 

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#15 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 03:36 AM
 
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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?  

 



 

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#16 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 07:43 AM
 
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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.

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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.

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#18 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 10:44 AM
 
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A little girl who says she doesn't feel very comfortable with people who are different than her is hardly making "prejudice remarks." 

 

 

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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


 

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#19 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 11:10 AM
 
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#20 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 11:12 AM
 
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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.

 

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#21 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 11:15 AM
 
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referring to one is not the same as making a remark against a group- that is stereotyping of behavior towards others

She's a child with limited life experience. She stereotyped that all African Americans have a voice she doesn't like and her mom pointed out an individual that doesn't fit her stereotype. What exactly is your problem with all of this?


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#22 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 11:30 AM
 
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Yeah, I really think the mother was just identifying remarks born of privilege, I really think, reading her post, that its hard to accuse her of not taking this seriously. 

 

I do think though, having a relatively homogenous circle is an occupational hazard of homeschooling, at least round here. We've done what we can to minimise it, eg sending our kids to a very diverse kindergarten to age 7 before homeschooling. What I think is so important is that kids see other skin colors/cultures as very normal, and as people first and foremost with exactly the same range of needs (eg to often just be quietly accepted) as everyone else-and also that one single person is not a representative of,say, all Africans (its a BIG place!) but one of many people from an enormous, hugely diverse area. But tbh I think its one of the big issues, that kids can actually grow up in a fairly diverse area and yet never have to rub along with everyone. Personally I believe its really important to take steps to mitigate the effects of this, and furthermore I think this needs to be by speaking with people as people, we adults often need to overcome any shyness and get on with it here, I think. I think its far more important to connect with actual people than to learn about them from books, or to have any kind of formal discussion about the importance of equality. I dunno, I think showing kids not to have preconceptions about others is one of the most useful life skills they can have, and I do think sometimes we don't place as much priority on it as we might.

 

What I'm trying to say I guess is that we need to teach our kids that people with different coloured skin to us are not necessarily different. Skin colour is a really rubbish indicator of whether someone is like you or not, and its really really not a good way of telling whether you are going to get on with them.

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#23 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 11:32 AM
 
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The phrase "white privilege" comes from race theory and has a very particular meaning that does not imply that the privileged individual is "above" others. In fact, it doesn't really refer to the individual at all. It is a societal phenomenon. According to Wikipedia White privilege may be defined as the "unearned advantages of being White in a racially stratified society."  

 

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege


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#24 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 11:40 AM
 
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And let's not forget the OP isn't white.


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#25 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 12:44 PM
 
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Yeah, I really think the mother was just identifying remarks born of privilege, I really think, reading her post, that its hard to accuse her of not taking this seriously. 

 

 

to be clear- I for one did not accuse the mother of not taking this seriously nor did I use the term "white" privilege and in fact there are other forms of privilege regarding prejudice, stereotyping and racism 


 

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#26 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 01:16 PM
 
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Is she suddenly becoming aware of these social differences and clinging to the comfort of being privileged? 

 

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Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

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

 

No, you didn't accuse her of not taking it seriously, but you clearly took great offence at what she said. A number of readers, myself included, are having difficulty understanding the nature of the offensiveness in that statement. If you construed some other meaning for the word privilege, I'm not getting it, and it's very likely that the original poster didn't intend whatever meaning it is that you have read in.

 

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#27 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 01:18 PM
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This is interesting.  We live in a very "white" area of the US.  However, the few people that we know (or have run into) that are not white have been in the same/similar socio-economic class as us (or they seem to be).  My oldest "discovered" black people when she was five, which I found odd because we knew/hung out with several families that had darker skin.  I really don't think she noticed until then.  She wasn't scared or weirded out though.  Our actual coversation was like this:

 

dd: "wow, did you know there are black people?"

me: "people come in many different shades"

dd: "have you ever seen a white person?"

me: "honey, we ARE white"

dd: "no we aren't. . . this is white" (she held up paper)

me:  "well we are called white"

dd: "that is dumb"

 

Then we went to the library and found a good book with lots of pictures of children from everywhere.  My dd was a bit dismayed to find out that most of the people that were called black, were actually brown.  I guess to her, it was like us being "white."  She didn't find it a very accurate term.  I am assuming that she heard the term somewhere else, because I rarely use a color word to describe someone.  I would usually say, darker skin or lighter skin or whatever.  I am not good at getting the correct ethnicity and don't want to screw that up.  While living in Boston, there were many families that came originally from Haiti.  I was told that they don't want to be called "African Americans", yet I couldn't really tell the difference.  Also, there were so many blended families.  So I took my lead from a wonderful African American person and just used darker/lighter to describe people.  Hopefully it doesn't offend.  

 

 

My kids seem to be wary of homeless people, people who appear drunk, people who are missing a bunch of teeth, etc.  In our community, most these people are also white.  They are also wary of people who are "in your face" or "too complimentary" or whatever.  This crosses all races and class structure.  My kids are more reserved I guess.  I imagine though, if the only darker people they met were drunk or high, that they may associate the two.  I know that in college, there was someone from a country (foreign exchange) that I don't recall now.  He was so rude to me, wouldn't let me help him in the computer lab, etc. that I know I started to think poorly of his background.  It was explained to me that in his culture, womem have a different roll.  I understood that, but it still irked me that he couldn't TRY to accept our culture while he was here.  After that, I was automatically wary of others that I thought were from his country.  It took me time to get over it.  I guess my point is that a first impression (whether or not accurate) can really make an impact.  I think some of our children may have first impressions that we aren't aware of and that they may make associations based on it.  

 

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#28 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 02:11 PM
 
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Privilege (social inequality)

 

IF you are on par-or feel equal too you would not cling to and or take comfort in privilege you perceive to have-why would you?

 

here is some on social privilege - http://www.mssresearch.org/?q=Structural_Definition_of_Social_Privilege

 

if you think of yourself in the context of description of the OP what other type of privilege could be ment? the child feels secure in her privileged life-IMO

 

 

 

I mustn't be the only one here!

 

Quote:
Yeah, I really think the mother was just identifying remarks born of privilege, 

so do I 

 

 

 

clinging to the comfort of being privileged

 

if you would not understand how the statement sounds how would you be open to understanding what how remarks like this make others feel?

 

 

 


 

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#29 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 02:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

 

 

 

clinging to the comfort of being privileged

 

if you would not understand how the statement sounds how would you be open to understanding what how remarks like this make others feel?

 

 

 

I am confused.  This is what I am hearing:

 

You think the daughter (a child) is racist and you are ticked at the mother because she must have learned it from the parents.  Am I correct?

 

In any event, I think the issue is serious, but not one the mother needs to be taken to task for.

 

I think it is pretty common for people to jump to conclusions about groups of people, particularly if they have little experience with others.  It is something we need to guard against, discuss, actively work on, etc…  I think moms who come here looking for information on how to help their children be more inclusive need support, not judgement.

 

As per what to do….I think gradually building up exposure is the way to go.  I agree that I would not want playdates and the like to become contrived - she really should play with whomever she wants.

 

I might start with outside the home activities.  One idea might be to try and look for an activity she likes in a diverse neighbourhood.  It would be good if many of the people were starting new - so she did not feel odd one out.    Swim lesson or summer reading clubs might be good bets for summer.  Hopefully she will meet a few people that are different from her and it will stretch her a bit!  

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#30 of 39 Old 06-09-2012, 04:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

 

I think it is pretty common for people to jump to conclusions about groups of people, particularly if they have little experience with others. 

And that's exactly how children learn about EVERYTHING. They drop one thing it falls. They drop another and notice a pattern. They assume everything falls when they let go. Then they let go of a helium balloon and notice it does something different. Or they notice girls wear pink and then assume someone wearing pink is a girl. It doesn't mean they are sexist or racist or gravitist.


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