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#1 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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ok so my kids are 5 and 1 . i am not sure if i want to make a big deal out of Barak being the first black president, i kinda want them to see it as normal and not some bizzare occurance. I really want them to grow up thinking it is normal and nothing to be gawked at but i am so excited and want them to know how special it is at the same time. i try to teach that we are all the same , what are you all doing at this historic time? :
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#2 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 10:45 AM
 
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My 6 yo and I talked about it briefly last night. I couldn't help but talk to her because every news station focused on him as the first black president. She wanted to know what that meant.

We focused on our nations sad history, how black people were treated, how wrong those beliefs are, how God created everyone and we are all his children etc.... She couldn't believe that people were treated differently because of their skin. She even said "What if people treated me differently because of my brown curly hair? That just doesn't make sense and would make me so sad".
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#3 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 10:57 AM
 
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Well, that's what it is--a historic time. And it's historic for a reason--because Barack is the 1st black president (or, technically, will be in Jan).


I'm not letting America off that easily. There needs to be some accountability. It's no mistake that we went so long without a non-white president. Nor is it a mistake that we've never had a female, or non Christian, or a (known to be) disabled president, etc.

I can't get behind a color blind mentality. He's black. His color influenced the way that many people voted--both for and against him. We need to teach our children to embace differences, not ignore them.

So....to answer your question, ds (who is biracial) and I (a white woman) have discussed what this means, the significance of it, the fact that we are living history right. this. very. second. when I let ds check off the box on the ballot....

BUT, we don't discuss his color any more than we discuss his (and our) hopes, dreams, and plans for this country.

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#4 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 11:11 AM
 
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My dd is only 3, but I've chosen not to stress his race. I thought about this a lot when Hillary was running the primaries because a big part of me was THRILLED that my dd might grow up with the pres she remembered being a woman- and I realized what a special thing it is for dd to already believe in equality in such a deeper way than I think I could ever teach her (by teaching her the way our society has been and then unteaching her- doe sthat make sense?) Certainly if she ever asks about the significance of his race, then we'll discuss it, but right now I'm happy with her innocence.

I also wouldn't want to give the impression that he won just because people wanted a black president. As important as it is from a historical perspective, his race was not a reason that I would vote for or against him-- I'm happier stressing to her the importance of voting for someone who wants to protect the environment and give everyone access to health care- since those are more important to me. (from where I stand, the republicans could have paraded out a disabled black lesbian, and if she still spouted the standard republican platform I would have voted against her without batting an eye)
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#5 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 11:13 AM
 
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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.
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#6 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 12:19 PM
 
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I know exactly what you are saying. DD is 3 and I mentioned Barak Obama for the first time to her yesterday. I didn't say anything about race, I was just describing what a "president" is and how it was time to choose a new one. But I don't want to mention race. I am from a multi-racial family and I'd rather DD just see everyone for who they are until she starts asking about how we look different.

My thought is there is plenty of time for DD to learn about the history of injustice in this country. Why not let her experience the USA for what it will be with a black president, so that it is her norm. She can learn the history of this later. I would be equally happy to have a woman as president and I'd approach it with DD the same way.

Besides, I just wish we were already at that point where it wasn't about black/white or male/female, just only about the best candidate for the job (which I also think Obama is). So I intend to focus on that for DD until she's older.
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#7 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 12:35 PM
 
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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.
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#8 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 12:51 PM
 
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i am not sure if i want to make a big deal out of Barak being the first black president, i kinda want them to see it as normal and not some bizzare occurance
That. My 6 year old knows no difference in skin color and I'll keep it that way as long as possible.
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#9 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 01:02 PM
 
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My almost 5 year old DS also doesn't perceive racial differences the way adults do. He told me everyone in his class was white, for example, which is empirically untrue - it's fewer than 50%. I didn't try to tell him that his best friend is actually mixed race and his new buddy is African American. He'll figure that out with time.

But, I definitely stopped as we left the polls yesterday and said, wait a moment. Remember this moment. I hope you remember this when you are older - this is the first time we are electing a black president. People have sometimes been mean to black people just because they are black and that is not ok. But this shows that the world is changing for the better. He mostly understands that Barack Obama is against the war and DS supports him for that reason. But I hope he does remember. What an amazing first political memory.
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#10 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 01:07 PM
 
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I've been teaching my 6 year old about racism and the history of civil rights in our country since he was a toddler. It's very important to me that I raise my children to be anti-racist, just as I was raised to be anti-racist. The concept of "color-blindness" is something that makes white people feel better and feel they are permitted to neglect educating their children about the history of oppression in this country. Look up white privilege.

Barack Obama being the first black president is a HUGE deal. Not small. Not something that should be ignored for a second. It is HUGE. It is AMAZING! As CMM said, Obama's race certainly played a very large part in the presidential race and influenced votes.

My children are being raised to be conscious of the history of this country, and what we need to do to make it better. My 6 year old absolutely has been taught about the historical importance of this election, from an equality perspective. Racism still exists and we are still immersed in it, whether we are always conscious of it or not. It does a disservice to ALL people, but most especially people of color, to pretend that racism doesn't exist, or that we can fight racism by ignoring it. We can't. We can fight racism with education, however. And that includes education about our American history. We must understand history in order to learn from it and not repeat mistakes.

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#11 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 01:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Alyantavid View Post
That. My 6 year old knows no difference in skin color and I'll keep it that way as long as possible.
Same here.
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#12 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 01:30 PM
 
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I'm Nor is it a mistake that we've never had a female, or non Christian, or a (known to be) disabled president, etc.
What about Franklin D. Roosevelt? He was in a wheelchair.

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#13 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 01:34 PM
 
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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 am hoping to help them develop to be ethical intellectuals. I think planting notions of fear and hate and problems they cannot solve in their tender years in no way advances that. For now I think the most helpful thing is to encourage them to develop respect and love relationships with people of all "races" and grapple with the mistakes of their ancestors later. I am pretty sure I am not making a racism-promoting mistake in taking this tact with my children who are 3 and 5. At any rate when I meet someone I do not decide whether to be friends with her based on her skin color. I do it like all mothers of young children do. If our children get along well I immediately want to exchange phone numbers. I do not know any better way to teach a new set of norms.

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#14 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 01:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lotusdebi View Post
The concept of "color-blindness" is something that makes white people feel better and feel they are permitted to neglect educating their children about the history of oppression in this country. Look up white privilege.
Exactly. The color-blind thing is just plain condescending. How nice it is to have the privilege of being able ignore it all.
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#15 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 02:03 PM
 
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I started to talk about Obama being the first black president to my 4yo ds (in a week he turns four) while driving him to school today and listening to the news on the radio. (We're white.) I told him people are talking about how it's the first time there's been an African-American president. I said Obama's father was from Kenya and Kenya's in Africa and, and there hasn't been a president before whose family was from Africa. That didn't quite sound like enough (to me, anyway - wasn't sure if ds was listening really) so I added that people from Africa have darker skin, brown skin, and for some reason for a long time people in the United States were not fair to... not nice to... people with darker skin...

Well, I heard myself talking and it was all over his head, really, about things he has no experience or context for. I stopped talking and he didn't seem to notice. Overall I feel he's just too young to take it in.
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#16 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 02:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
What about Franklin D. Roosevelt? He was in a wheelchair.
Almost all of America had no idea he was in a wheelchair.
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#17 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 02:08 PM
 
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It's weird to read through this thread because in a way I can agree with everybody who posted! These are all valid points!

I think it really depends on the age of the child, their life experience, and what their awareness of racial issues is already. As with everything we teach/tell children we have to sort of base our answer on their level of understanding of the world--when a two year old asks why leaves are green it doesn't make sense to go into a lengthy explanation of chlorophyll and photosynthesis! We have to gear our answers or explanations to them to their current levels of understanding. My DD will be 3 this Saturday and her Dad is from India and I'm white/from the U.S. Since we went to visit India this summer and she met her paternal grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousins, she has come home and started being aware of a difference between India and America, and being aware of race/color differences in people and asking questions. But in her mind, Indians are green. Daddy is green, her grandma is green, anybody wearing a sari at the Indian grocery store is a "green lady", etc.! We've started having some discussions about how some people have different hair color and eye color and skin color, and how people come from different parts of the world and that many people from India, like Daddy, have darker skin. She recognizes Barack Obama and John McCain when she sees them on TV but isn't really aware of the significance of the presidency or anything, much less the historic significance of a black/biracial president. I just explained the concept of what a president is yesterday. When she's six or seven she'll be ready for a much more complicated explanation! In the meantime I'm happy that this is going to be a part of her earliest experience of the world.
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#18 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 02:14 PM
 
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I grew up in England at the time of Margaret Thatcher, the first (only) female prime minister and one of the first woman premiers of any country, and my parents initially stressed the fact that she was a woman as suggesting equality, that I could achieve anything I wanted, and so on.
At some point, the awareness sank in that although Thatcher was a woman, she did not have the intention of changing the lives of other women through her position of power. I would not raise the subject of Obama's race unless one of his campaign promises relates specifically to race relations. (eta: I haven't read them all, so I don't know.)

I will say, though, that I'm hoping that he turns out to be more than "just" America's first black president. Roosevelt is remembered for having some common sense on his shoulders first, the wheelchair second, it would be good if we could say the same for Obama in years to come.

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#19 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 02:15 PM
 
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I am just honoured that such a wise man will be leading the country.

I think it is a big deal, a huge deal.
However, my kids are 2 and 4, and since we are not in the USA, we have not discussed it because they do not even know about an election. It has been all over the news here too though.

I got this phrase off the news coverage and thought it was beautiful:
Rosa sat so Martin could march,
Martin marched so Obama could run.
Obama ran so our childen could fly.
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#20 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 02:23 PM
 
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I think that people should read

http://mmcisaac.faculty.asu.edu/emc598ge/Unpacking.html
15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

Because only people who have white skin privleage can *not* talk about Obama as the first black president.
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#21 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 05:16 PM
 
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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.
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#22 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 06:45 PM
 
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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?

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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

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#23 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 06:47 PM
 
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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!
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#24 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 07:11 PM
 
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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!

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#25 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 07:18 PM
 
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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.

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#26 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 07:27 PM
 
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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.

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#27 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 07:37 PM
 
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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#28 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 07:40 PM
 
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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.
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#29 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 07:49 PM
 
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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?
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#30 of 145 Old 11-05-2008, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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 .
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