metaphortunate: (Default)
You may have seen that article going around about how it's totally useless to tell your white kids that "everyone is equal". (Spoiler: it has no effect on shaping your kids' beliefs on race because it is prompted and shaped by no actual beliefs on race.) Someone on Twitter - I can't remember who, sing out if it was you - said, well, what do POC want people to tell their white kids about race?

And I've been thinking about that for days on end.

Partly I don't have a good answer because my kid is only 2, and I know exactly as much about parenting as you need to know in order to have a 2 year old. I don't know anything about kids older than that. I'd love to hear from parents of older kids.

Partly my answer is very simple and not trivial for everyone and, for the reason mentioned above, appropriate for a 2 year old. Mention race. Like this:

(while reading picture book) "That little black girl is playing ball. That little white boy is running."
"The president is black. His daddy was from Africa."
"Our neighbors are Taiwanese. They are Asian. Asia is the continent across the Pacific. You are white. That means your family came from Europe [a long time ago/when your grandma was a little girl/two years ago]."
"Your best friend at daycare's daddy is black and her mama is white. Doesn't she have pretty curly hair?"
"Mama's friend S. is Indian. They're coming over this afternoon and you can play with R."

And it's not trivial because to do it right you have to actually have the neighbors and the kid at the daycare and the friend. That's the important bit. It's helpful not to act like being other than white is some kind of embarrassing faux pas that other people are doing but that polite people never mention! But as the article says, if you talk about how everyone is the same, but your kids see that you only ever spend time with white peopleā€¦.well. Kids aren't dumb.

But of course that's not the beginning and end of the story of race. God. Me personally, just off the top of my head: we're going to have to talk about the Civil War, and the Japanese internment camps, and Israel and Palestine, and hip-hop, and all that shit my one cousin says about Trayvon Martin, and why the people look different in the different neighborhoods in our city, and, eventually, why I call my kid white but myself not quite*.

And, after thinking and thinking and thinking about it, there's a lot I want white kids to hear about race. But the really hard parts aren't race-specific. Though of course it will be important to explicitly connect them to race, because otherwise people can develop some truly hilarious blind spots, it will be just as important to connect them to other inequalities. And these are the things I have no god damned idea how I'm going to try to teach:

1) People are frequently unbelievably horrible to each other, and profit by it, and suffer no bad consequences. But don't do it anyway.

2) Sometimes when you do the right thing you will get no reward of any kind for it, and in fact you'll pay for it, and sometimes you'll get shit on. But do it anyway.

And if you have advice on how I can make that sound convincing, I'd love to hear it.

------


*Mr. E is white, and if you've never met me, these days my expressed racial identity can probably best be expressed by the fact that my one co-worker has (unsolicited) told me (twice) that I look totally white. That about sums it up. The genetic mix of us has produced a kid who looks like he could be made out of mayo, basically. So this question is relevant to me.
metaphortunate: (at one with the universe)
Took baby for a walk with mom. No sidewalks in mom's suburb of course, so guy in truck yelled at us for walking in the street. Two white kids with a dog greeted us in Spanish, & when I responded in Spanish, yelled "this ain't Mexico!" after us. I told them to go to hell. I want to go home. :(

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