White Anti-Racist Parents - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?
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#2 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 05:08 PM
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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.
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#3 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 05:17 PM
 
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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.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18, and Jack, 12
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#4 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 05:39 PM
 
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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.
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#5 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 06:48 PM
 
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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.
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#6 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 06:50 PM
 
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But isn't cultivating friends just because they are black just as bad as ignoring people just because they are black?
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#7 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 07:02 PM
 
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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'!

Kash, homeschooling mommy to Gillian (8/5/00) and Jacob (3/23/05)
and Brigid Eleanor (11/20/08)
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#8 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 07:15 PM
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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.
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#9 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 07:20 PM
 
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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?
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#10 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 07:22 PM
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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?
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#11 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 07:46 PM
 
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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.
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#12 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 07:58 PM
 
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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
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#13 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 08:05 PM
 
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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.
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#14 of 377 Old 09-08-2005, 11:31 PM
 
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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.
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#15 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 12:02 AM
 
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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.....
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#16 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 12:24 AM
 
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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!
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#17 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 12:35 AM
 
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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?
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#18 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 12:46 AM
 
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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.
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#19 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 12:48 AM
 
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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.
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#20 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 12:58 AM
 
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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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#21 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 01:57 AM
 
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children naturally see differences in skin color as unique characteristics, not things to judge. Unless someone close to them tends to be critical of people's appearances in front of them, a child will naturally be accepting of everyone they meet as they are. That's not to say they don't have inquiries, though. But I do try not to point out differences between people my daughter and I see. If she questions "why does she have such curly hair and I don't?" (which she has of her friend prya), I ask "her mommy gave it to her, just like I gave you straight hair. isn't is beautiful?" We don't seek out "educational" ways to talk about racism. Thank heaven that in my daughter's 4 year old world there is no such thing yet.

~Sara, WAHSingMomi to girls R and AV, S.O.A.R. Scout Leader and Homeschooling In Detroit Blogger

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#22 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 09:19 AM
 
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I agree with the pp who pointed out that it isn't just white people that have biases. All people do. This really isn't a "white" issue.

We happen to live in a very multi-cultural suburban town. I took my dd to the 'Y' yesterday and noticed how many different races and cultures were represented at the toddler gym.

We don't talk about race with any type of negativity - meaning, I don't talk about racism (my oldest is 5). I don't think it's appropriate, and we need to establish more positive feelings about racial differences, because as a culture, the whole thing is negative and adversarial from my view. But we do talk about skin color sometimes. And I'll say things like, "Isn't it wonderful that God made us in so many beautiful colors?"

I would also suggest checking out your local library. Ours happens to carry a surprising abundance of books about children of different colors, and people from all around the world. I think positive exposure in this form normalizes color differences, especially if you don't happen to have too much mulit-culturalism in your own town.

I also think it helps to expose your children to their own ancestry. We're not "just white" -- we're English, or Italian, or Eastern European, or Russian, or Austrian, or Nordic . . . Just like others aren't just "Asian" or just "Black". I think acknowledging the richness of culture and differences in ourselves helps our children learn to acknowledge and appreciate the diversity in others.
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#23 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveMyLittles
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.
:
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#24 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 01:53 PM
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My sister and I were attending college together.
We are very social and have no problems making many friends.
There was one young man, I will call him Nick, that we had bonded with and had a lot of fun in his company. We would meet everyday for breaktime and talk and laugh, along with a few other friends. It was my favorite time of the day, as breaktime was sure to bring laughter. After breaktime, we would all hug each other and go our separate ways.

One day, we entered the breakroom to find Nick with his head down and looking upset. We asked what he needed from us, his friends. He then launched into a huge tirade about how the other guys made fun of him and threatened to beat him up. He started talking about how he hated spics, n-words, injuns, lesbos, etc. and how the guys were saying they would beat him up if he continued to meet all of us at breaktime and how the guys didn't understand how great we all were and how much love and care he felt when he was with us.
I then gently asked him who he thought he was sitting with everyday. He replied, "My friends, the greatest people on earth!"
I said, well in light of the tirade you just went on, I would like to point out to you, Nick, that my sister and I are 'injuns', Chris is a 'spic', Diane is a 'lesbo', Charlie is a 'n-word', and Alison is Jewish.
Nick looked up and really looked at us, each of us. Then he said, 'Quit messin' with me, I'm already havin' a bad day, you guys."
When he realized we spoke the truth, he ran away and cried. We didn't see him for weeks. One day he came to the breakroom and said he was sorry and did we still care about him and still want to be friends with him. Of course, we all said, "Yes!" He told us about how he started hanging out with the other guys and how hateful and mean they were and he just couldn't stand it anymore. He talked about how they wanted to ride in the pick-up truck and throw full cans of beer at the black people sitting at the bus stop and how he, Nick, just could not bring himself to hurt any person, no matter what. He jumped out of the truck and ran home. He decided then and there that he would rather be friends with us, people who cared about other people, then those who wanted to hurt others.
Weeks went by and school was ending.
We all went over to Nick's house. There we learned that Nick came from a home of a single dad, who had been taught all his life to hate and be racist. Imagine Nick's father's surprise when we all showed up to be there for Nick. Nick knew what it meant to be loved, though, and I think that is what really crossed the border and put blinders on when he could not see us as different, kwim?
At graduation, we all cheered for Nick, along with his father. We all purposely hugged Nick's dad and congradulated him on such a wonderful job raising Nick and letting us be a part of Nick's life.
His father still gets drunk and spouts off all sorts of hate messages.
Nick married Alison, they even had a Jewish wedding. He still says ignorant things, but when it is pointed out to him, he realizes he doesn't really feel that way, it is what he learned/heard all his growing up years.

What I believe the moral is? That a child who is raised with love, even if they are taught from birth to be racist, will still act out of love first and seek out others who know how to love and be loved.
Luckily for Nick, he also grew up without television and his father never pointed out exactly what or who the racist names were for, kwim?

I asked Nick once, what he thought those certain words would look like. He said, "I don't know. Something scary, I s'pose." :LOL
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#25 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 02:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsupialmom

I have sat in shock when talking to an AA friend that uses the words "sp*c and d*go".
I'm wondering why you pointed out this person's race? I think this is the sort of thing we need to examine so we are not subconciously passing anything racist along to our children.

Quote:
Originally Posted by white_feather
I agree with the pp who pointed out that it isn't just white people that have biases. All people do. This really isn't a "white" issue.
Of course everyone has biases and prejudices. This thread though is specifically aimed at white families and I think that's perfectly acceptable. White people are the ones who hold the power and have the privelege. You have to make especially sure that your children do not contribute to opressing others. This thread is focusing on the "white issue" part of it.

Also, I have to agree w/Irishmommy here. It is really wrong to try to befriend someone just because of their race. That's tokenizing (if their is such a word ). I have seen people try to do this to my dh and even to my kids and if feels really, really icky. DON'T do that. DO expose yourself and your children to people from all backgrounds. And please, what's w/the hatin' on Irishmommy? She knows there are all kinds of races and cultures. It seems you're just picking apart her posts.
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#26 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by white_feather
Just like others aren't just "Asian" or just "Black".
This is another good thing to teach your children. That most black Americans actually (and very unforunately) are just black/African. They sadly do not have the *priveledge" to even know what nationality they are or where exactly their ancestors came from. That priviledge was stolen from them.

I think at different ages children understand different things and are ready to learn different things. You know the best way to present it to them and you'll probably know the best time. I do think though that understanding white priviledge is necessary in combating racism.
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#27 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 03:02 PM
 
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The best thing I have ever done was keep my kids away from my racist bigoted mother.

If you like to read, I highly recommend these two books:
Anti-Bias Curriculum
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...90357?v=glance
and you can read a bit about it here
http://www.education.tas.gov.au/ocll...models/abc.htm
http://www.freekidcrafts.com/Anti-Bias-Curriculum.html
http://www.ericdigests.org/1992-1/early.htm

and

Roots and Wings
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...=UTF8&v=glance

Flowers, fairies, gardens, and rainbows-- Seasons of Joy: 10 weeks of crafts, handwork, painting, coloring, circle time, fairy tales, and more!
Check out the blog for family fun, homeschooling, books, simple living, and 6 fabulous children, including twin toddlers

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#28 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 03:37 PM
 
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I'm a moron. Please move along

Single Mom to 2 amazing little men. T(7) and B(5)
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#29 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 04:20 PM
 
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I don't see anthing wrong with it. I think it's good she realizes there is a difference in white people being racist and non white people being racist. I think it shows that she is aware of white priviledge to some extent.
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#30 of 377 Old 09-09-2005, 04:25 PM
 
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They sadly do not have the *priveledge" to even know what nationality they are or where exactly their ancestors came from. That priviledge was stolen from them.
Do you, generic you, think it is important for a child to know their ancestry?

Single Mom to 2 amazing little men. T(7) and B(5)
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