Mothering Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,244 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So the other day my 6yo dd asks me how george washington and abraham lincoln each died. we looked up washington on google and discovered that he basically had a bad cold. And lincoln well, some guy shot him.<br><br><i>"but why, mama?"<br>
"well some people didn't like the things he did as president"<br>
"what did he do"<br>
"he made a war so that some states couldn't make their own country and so that none of the states could practice slavery"<br>
"whats slavery mama?"<br>
"....uhm...its when you make people work but don't pay them...."<br>
"why can't we have slaves?"<br>
"...uhm...because its wrong to make people work without paying them..."</i><br><br>
Have any of you had this conversation? I feel like I could have handled it better. I guess I suffer from embarrassment at the things humanity in general and my race in particular is capable of. Add that to the fact that we are southerners. I think I'm the first nonracist in the family.<br><br>
How much information do you think is appropriate? Should i revisist the topic later?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,323 Posts
So timely that you posted this. A few nights ago we were watching a baseball show on the ***** leagues, ds was playing, not really paying attention. I looked over at dh and asked "how do you explain that to a kid??" It's such a foreign concept to me, treating someone differently for nothing but physical appearance or birthplace. I've got no idea how to explain it either hopefully I'll find the right words when the time comes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,842 Posts
I think you did handle it well! And, I think it is so important that we have these kinds of conversations with our kids. My 6 year old also asked some questions recently about this too. They talked about Lincoln and Washington in school around President's day, so he came home with some questions. A lot of times, when I don't know what to say on any topic, I will first ask him "what do you think" to get his ideas first. Then, I can elaborate. He often knows more about a certain issue than I would expect and gives some pretty insightful answers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,912 Posts
My son's K12 charter school/homeschool addressed slavery VERY thoroughly in it's Kindergarten History curriculum. There was a really great book we read that might help you. It was titled <i>Follow the Drinking Gourd</i>.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,203 Posts
Personally I think it's irresponsible to leave race out of an explanation of slavery. It's integral to an explanation of the practice of slavery and the current race relations of the United States.<br>
When my son is old enough to understand history (probably sometime soon, as he's 3 now), I will tell him that white people abducted black people from Africa (he already knows black people came from Africa) and forced them to work without pay and under harsh conditions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,244 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hottmama, that's what left me feeling uncomfortable about the conversation. The fact that I left race out of it. I hate to take away her innocence about race. She just doesn't think about it other than to sometimes comment that one of her friends is brown. We live in the south and racism is so ugly and so pervasive and I don't want her to become intolerant. But at the same time members of my own family are that way. I'm going to get a copy of the book <i>Follow the Drinking Gourd</i> that moondiapers mentioned. I'm going to keep checking back here as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,155 Posts
i think what you said was great, esp being on the spot. hit the library, bring home some books, and ask dc "remember what we talked about the other day? well, if you'd like to hear more..." also, maybe talk to dc's "brown" friend's parents and see if they'd like to share their POV. (*not trying to mock, i just love the terms that kids come up with on their own.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,622 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>hellyaellen</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I hate to take away her innocence about race. She just doesn't think about it other than to sometimes comment that one of her friends is brown. We live in the south and racism is so ugly and so pervasive and I don't want her to become intolerant. .</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
I've definitely struggled with this same issue. We are also in the south (though not from the south) and we have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for racism. I love that my children are colour-blind and I want them to stay that way. But I want to balance that with teaching them history, as we should never allow it to be repeated. I, too, have struggled with how to explain the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for instance, without talking too much about death and the fact that some people believed others to be lesser simply due to the colour of their skin, something I don't even want my children to ~think~ about.... sigh...it's tricky, I certainly don't have the answer yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,490 Posts
What a tough question! If you're looking for input, then I'll say that I think it's important to mention ownership in an explanation of slavery. Saying that they made people work without pay doesn't sound overly offensive. It wasn't that they worked 9-5 with no pay. They couldn't ever leave or do whatever they wanted. They were owned. If you're trying to keep the discussion very general at this point, you could also mention that various people throughout history have practiced slavery.<br><br>
However, I think that it's going to be difficult for your child to remain unaware that this particular slavery was practiced against Africans and African-Americans. If she's in school, I would think she might get bits and pieces of this or of racial issues from other kids (or your relatives). I don't envy you at all. I have a very innocent child too. He's younger, but I could see him being very innocent at 6. This is tough stuff. But I'd rather he learn it from me than from other children. It would give you a chance to inject your values into the conversation, since you said you're worried about intolerance.<br><br>
FWIW, my father's family (who are Southern) are pretty racist, but it didn't influence us. We were always telling them off as kids and correcting things that they'd say. My mother taught us well and I think that her influence was the reason we didn't think like them. So, I know you're worried, but you have the biggest influence. Your dd is lucky to have such a wonderful, caring and thoughtful mother. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
312 Posts
I think you handled it well. And the idea to do some "follow-up" is also good. Since she is showing an interest in this issue now, it would be a good time to bring race into your discussions. Especially being in the South, she is going to start seeing/hearing racist attitudes and noticing them sooner than later.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,753 Posts
I know how hard this topic can be. My husband and I am both white and have an adopted bi-racial son. He is eight and the topic of slavery and race has come up a lot. I just try to explain to him the actual history of it and be as frank as I can. He understands its wrong to judge someone based on color and how hurtful it can be to be a victim of racism.. He had a girl on his bus tell him "I don't date black people." This was a seven yo girl he had a crush on....it pisses me off b/c she learned that SOMEWHERE...<br><br>
I'm digressing...but I think you did a good job explaining a tough one to her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,455 Posts
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> It is hard to explain how people can do such awful things! A few years ago I was tutoring an African-American third-grader who asked some interesting questions about a similar topic. I'll give you our conversation as best I can recall it, as an example of the kind of approach that might be helpful:<br><br>
HER: Today in school we learned about how the Pilgrims and the Indians had the first Thanksgiving. How come there aren't any Indians anymore?<br>
ME: There still are some Indians, but mostly they don't live around here anymore. The government made them move so that the Pilgrims, and other people who came from Europe later, could live on the land where the Indians used to live.<br>
HER: Why did the Indians put up with that?!<br>
ME: Some of the tribes were very nice and gentle people who wanted to cooperate and be friends, and they didn't realize that the settlers weren't being good friends until it was too late. Other tribes tried to fight, but they only had bows and arrows and the settlers had guns, so they lost.<br>
HER: They didn't have any busses or planes back then. How did the Indians get to their new place?<br>
ME: Some rode in wagons or on horses, but a lot of them had to WALK! It was very hard, and a lot of them died.<br>
HER: We learned about how a lot of the Pilgrims died when they got here because it was colder than they expected and they didn't have enough food. Was it like that for the Indians too?<br>
ME: Yes. Some of the foods they used to eat wouldn't grow in the new place, and some of them had to move from warm places to cold places.<br>
HER: Well! I think if the government was going to make them move to a cold place, they should've given them some blankets!<br>
[I was astonished to be given this perfect set-up for mentioning one of the cruelest crimes against the American Indians.]<br>
ME: Actually, they did give some blankets to some of the Indians, but those blankets were FULL OF GERMS! They were old blankets from people who had died of smallpox, and they made a bunch of Indians get smallpox and die!<br>
HER: That was very mean!<br>
ME: Yes, it was very mean.<br>
HER: Was that OUR people who did that?!<br>
ME: Well, sort of... We're Americans, so the American government is "us" in a way. But the government at that time was only people who came from Europe, white people. YOUR ancestors didn't get any say about what happened to the Indians.<br>
HER: Ohhh, was that at the same time when my people were slaves?<br>
ME: Yes.<br>
HER: That was very mean too.<br>
ME: Yes, white people have done some terrible things to other people. It makes me very sad.<br>
HER: You weren't born yet. It wasn't you who did it.<br>
ME: That's true. All I can do about it is to try to stop anything like that from happening again.<br>
HER: We can do better than the olden people.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Since then I've done a lot of thinking about how various horrors of history can be explained to kids such that they learn without being traumatized. It's tricky! I know that when I was a kid, some of these things (like the above and slavery) were explained well to me, but others (like nuclear bombs) were presented in a way that terrified me and made me feel very powerless.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,841 Posts
"HER: We can do better than the olden people."<br><br>
What a fantastic quote! This should be the motto of every American in a lot of circumstances!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,244 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/notes2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="notes right-handed">:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,203 Posts
I am white, and my oldest son is white. My partner is black and my youngest son is biracial. My son just turned 3 and yet, he knows about black and white people- I can't imagine him making it to 6 without thinking about race! Our friends are multiracial, for instance there's "the black Ashley with that kid Ethan" and "the white Ashley with baby Liam" (Julian's descriptions, heh). In this family we talk about race almost every day. I imagine my little guy will have an awareness of race at an even younger age than Julian.<br><br>
While I want to protect my son from the horrors of the world, I think it's important that he knows about them. We talk about homelessness, racism, war, animal abuse, and other unpleasant issues all the time (in an age appropriate way, of course). We haven't spoken about slavery yet, because he's not aware of time to the point of discussing things that happened before anyone he knows was born.<br><br>
I don't think not talking to your white kid about race is helping anyone, and I don't think it's going to help them to be antiracists. I don't think being "colorblind" is antiracist. We all need to be aware of race and privilege in our lives- we don't live in a world where it makes any sense to be colorblind.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,486 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>hottmama</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I am white, and my oldest son is white. My partner is black and my youngest son is biracial. My son just turned 3 and yet, he knows about black and white people- I can't imagine him making it to 6 without thinking about race! Our friends are multiracial, for instance there's "the black Ashley with that kid Ethan" and "the white Ashley with baby Liam" (Julian's descriptions, heh). In this family we talk about race almost every day. I imagine my little guy will have an awareness of race at an even younger age than Julian.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
ITA. We have always talked about skin color as one aspect of a person, just as eye color, hair color, etc, transmitted by genetics. It's not bad or good, just another aspect of a person, but <i>not</i> something we ignore, any more than we might ignore a nose ring or eye color or anything else...meaning we didn't talk about the political ramifications of race in America yet. We didn't tell her about the evils of slavery until recently (she's six), just talking about segregation blew her mind last year.<br><br>
Something that really struck home in communicating the sadness and horror of slavery was a drawing in one of her books of a mother and child on the auction block, about to be separated by the seller. It was a sickening picture, absolutely brought home the devastation of slavery for the empathetic child. It makes ME cry to look at it.<br><br>
I definitely don't think six is too young. I remember ignorant comments being made by my family members around that age about other races, and me feeling really confused by them. My family is southern (Texas) too, BTW, including my immediate family. You might as well instill your values as best you can before peers or extended family gets the chance...<br><br>
I have read that waiting so long to talk to children about race, slavery, and segregation is a unique luxury for white families. I do think there is some truth to that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,244 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">we didn't talk about the political ramifications of race</td>
</tr></table></div>
Thats what I mean.<br><br>
dd is aware of race as people being differrent colors, from differrent places, etc but has not been made aware of any of the horror and tradgedy surrounding race in the US<br><br><br>
now that she's in school and i don't have as much control over what she is exposed to i feel like its time to start the conversation with her. I want to be sure she knows it is wrong to judge people. I know it is important to learn about the past so that we don't repeat it. she gave me a good opportunity to open the dialouge and i feel like i flubbed it.<br><br>
Now I realize that I need to more fully explain the ownership and racial aspects of slavery to her.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top