discussing racism with kids

Teaching My Son About Racism – Raising White Kids

I never imagined that I would have to discuss racism with my kids at such an early age. For as long as I can remember, I always pictured myself being a mother. I never wanted to be anything else. But I had no idea that having my kids would mean explaining racist ideologies to them at such young ages.

When I was a kid, it wasn’t nearly as prevalent and talked about as it is these days.

Why Should I Discuss Racism?

When we teach kids early on that it’s okay to talk about race, we help them understand, respect, and appreciate people’s differences. This builds empathy for others so that children can see when things in their world seem unjust.

How Do I Talk About Racism?

There’s no wrong or right way to talk to your kids about race or racism. The conversation will be different for each family, depending on your race, nationality, and personal experience with racism.

How I Discuss Racism with My Kids

I encourage my son to watch the news in the morning, instead of cartoons, as he gets ready for school to know what is going on in the world.  Our school drives are generally spent discussing what he saw that morning on the news and me answering questions about it.

1. Face the reality.

I always try to be realistic with my children. It’s best to know that they get most of their information from me and have an opinion formed when asked about important things. But I don’t try to force something on them or to confuse them. I usually only answer when they have questions about things that might upset them.

When my son asked if I heard what the Clippers owner said a while back, it surprised me.  I listened to the news as I got ready for work and didn’t know my son knew about it.  When he explained that one of the kids talked about it at school, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that children discussed current events with one another on the playground instead of playing. 

I asked him if he had heard about the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner making racist statements on the news.  He said he had heard a little about it. So I explained that the Los Angeles Clippers owner made racist comments about certain ethnic groups, even though he owned a mixed-race team.

I asked him if he had played for the Los Angeles Clippers, and his boss said that he didn’t like some of his teammates because of the color of their skin, would he want to play basketball for that team.

His response was, “No, because it wouldn’t be right.”  I had to agree with him.

2. Stand up for what you believe in

I explained that although the Clippers were in the playoffs and played hard to get there, it didn’t justify these comments. I explained that you have to stand for something as a human being.  You can’t do things just because your friends or the rest of the team is going along.

If you believe that something isn’t right, you need to speak up and stand for what you believe in.

I also reminded him of people like Martin Luther King, Jr, and Medger Evers, who lost their lives because they stood up for what they believed in and fought for the civil rights of not just African Americans but all minorities.

3. Dealing with Society

It’s hard to deal with a society that is so divided in its opinions of racism. By not being afraid to discuss racism and what is going on in our community, I hope to instill awareness in my son by raising him right.

I also hope that I am making him understand that a the end of the day, you have to “stand for something or fall for anything and I am raising him to be the type of man that will always stand for something.

4 thoughts on “Teaching My Son About Racism – Raising White Kids”

  1. Great article and I can really relate. My son is 17 now, and of course, these conversations are on-going. Explaining to him that the police, who are sworn to protect him, may find him threatening was heartbreaking. Grilling him on how to carry himself around the police and how to respond to them was heartbreaking because his other friends didn’t have to have those kinds of conversations. And oddly, the moment when he finally got it was heartbreaking, as well. It’s like I had to steal his innocence in order to save his life.

    1. Thanks, Sophia. It is indeed a sad situation but the scary part is what can happen if you don’t explain to that about what is out there and what could happen

  2. Good article. Sounds like you are a great mom.

    I too have a 10 year old son and we both watch BBC, CNN and Al Jeezera (every now and again The Steve Harvey Show so that he can get a black American male perspective) before school in the mornings and on weekends. I have also shared, a little bit, about what it is like for blacks in America and how he will have to be respectful to all and carry himself with respect and proper decorum when we do relocate back to America some day. Actually, I am getting him into the habit of greeting people and being helpful like many African children do/are, which is so refreshing. However, as a former NYPD officer, I tell my son that the police are our friends and he should appreciate and respect them all.

    I must say, we are really blessed that the environment we live in now shields him. As a black American boy, he is treated very well by Africans and Europeans and when we are fortunate to travel. I am doing my level-best to help him develop self-confidence so that he will feel comfortable in any environment he finds himself in as he transitions into manhood and be able to make GREAT decisions and stay away from situations that can get him into trouble. (I think I just got off the topic a bit, sorry.)

    I love articles like this one and look forward to learning from other moms.

  3. Pingback: The Reality Of Racism And Raising An African American Boy ‹ The Sexy Single Mommy - A Relationship BlogThe Sexy Single Mommy – A Relationship Blog

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