Why would anyone ever discriminate against someone because of their skin color?
This can be a difficult question to answer; whether coming from an adult or a seven-year-old. Perhaps a month ago, we would have never thought to ask these questions at the dinner table. The Civil Rights Movement of 1968 had solidified the change fought for. Decades later we can say we have raised a generation that doesn’t judge someone based on their racial profile. Yet recent news has us feeling ashamed, hurt, angry, and lost. Depending on your own environmental and societal factors this is something you are keenly aware of or now has been put into focus.
How do we create a positive movement in 2020, that finally results in the change intended fifty-two years ago?
Do you remember the simplicity of being a child?
Your biggest concern was avoiding boredom. A glimpse of a child’s mind is beautifully depicted in this video. As we grow, we start to notice our differences. History books teach us about the sacrifices leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. made to create change in hopes for a better future. However, formal education plays a fraction of the influences our kids will encounter while they develop opinions of others and of themselves. Our jobs as parents are to not shy away from this dialogue but to challenge it. This is the only way we can avoid inhibitions towards ourselves and others.
Our objective should be to not only help our children question preconceived beliefs but to develop empathy, compassion, and a sense of justice to create a better future. The first step to a better understanding is seeing what beliefs your children hold and asking how they’ve come to hold them.
What are some of your own biases – positive or negative – that you are aware of?How have you experienced bias in your own life?How might our biases towards another affect how we shape our own life?How will these biases affect your children?
What to do.
Seek to interact with those whose opinions differ from you. Lower your defense. Listen carefully and work to see where you may have deficiencies, whether previously unknown or not.
Discuss empathy with your children and how they might handle challenging situations when you are not around.
- Suggest finding common ground. We don’t agree on __ but we can agree on __.
- Always allow for the time and space you may need. Could we revisit the conversation about__ tomorrow?
- Set boundaries to what you are not comfortable with. Please don’t say __ again to me or around me.
Books and Online Resources:
- Smithsonian Natural Museum of African American History & Culture. The Smithsonian websites have a wide collection of resources, actionable activities and questions to bring to start the dialogue around.
- Historical Foundations of Race Understanding race as a social construction that gives or denies privileges.
- Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race This article discusses how children at a young age (3-5) develop beliefs about people of different color and the affects of their community. play into this.
- Lets Talk! Discussing Race, Racism, and Other Difficult Topics with Students A comprehensive guide to effectively communicating tough topics that use self-awareness and empathy.
- A book for young readers
- Voices from all arenas
Setting an example. Take action in your local community.
While businesses are slowly starting to open, taking the initiative to support black-owned businesses is a great place to give help and make positive change. Here is a list of Colorado-based restaurants, retail, and other miscellaneous businesses you can support now.
If you haven’t previously opened up this dialogue with your family, now is an important time to do so. Many families have beliefs with the best of intentions, yet if we are not constantly questioning and asking ourselves to be honest about our biases we will never progress as a society. Ask open questions, surround yourself with people of various backgrounds, and reflect on how these actions will make a positive impact on our children’s future. Privilege is about what you haven’t had to go through. The opportunities you’ve been given or have not. Bring awareness into your circle and continue to learn. Don’t let a status quo limit you.