In this day and age, prejudice is ripe, so how do we raise children to be race-conscious?
Some people think that talking to children about race and racism will lead them to be more prejudice or notice the differences between people. The truth is, the opposite is true. Remaining silent on the topic of race isn’t helping our children. It isn’t moving the needle any closer to equality.
If adults are silent about race, they actually reinforce racial prejudice in children. From a young age, children notice patterns – who lives where; what homes they see; who is the most desirable character in a film; and so one – and they try to assign “rules” to explain what they see. So adults staying silent about these patterns and structural racism causes prejudice in kids. Young children infer that racial inequities they see are natural and justified.
What’s more, dismissing a child asking a question about someone’s skin colour, often teaches children that they are not supposed to talk about race. So despite having good intentions, we are actually teaching children that talking about racial issues, contributes to the development of racial bias.
Parents have similar goals when it comes to how their raise them to handle the issue of race. Firstly, we want to raise children who judge people based on behaviour, values and their likes and dislikes. Not the colour of their skin, or their origins. Secondly, we want to raise them to be able to call our racism. To be able to recognise prejudice around them. Lastly, we want our children to understand and see people as equals who need friendship, not as people who need saving.