Race and Racism


I find it highly inappropriate to hear a young child refer to their classmate as the “brown girl.”  Don’t wait until your child is a teenager before you begin teaching a child about race.  I know that children are innocent and that there intent is not to be offensive or perhaps it is but the point is that they come across rude.  This begs the question, at what point should I begin education about race in my home? I would say start as early as possible.  You don’t have to sit your child down at 4 years old and give them a lecture on the civil rights movement but I suggest teaching them behaviors of acceptance early on.

I have a friend who tutors in one of the ritziest areas of the Bay.  From what she says there is not a vast amount of African Americans in this area.  In her first session with this young boy his comment to her was, “I didn’t know you were going to be so dark.”  The interesting thing is that my friend is very fair skinned.  She is African American but she is what some urban individuals would refer to as “yellow.”  She is lighter than my “brown” skin or “caramel mocha” as she likes to call it.  How offensive do you think that little boy’s comment to her was despite her tenacious resilience, understanding, and patience?  We must teach the children entrusted to us in a way that will allow them to navigate through the trenches of life with the tools necessary to succeed.  Teaching children about different nationalities and what is acceptable in society provides them with the knowledge and understanding needed to avoid negative stereotypes.  Being prejudice is not an endearing trait and focusing too much on race and racism leaves a stigma that is becoming increasingly unacceptable.  It is frustrating for me to hear someone refer to a child of Indian origin as, “brown.”  Frankly the lack of knowledge is not the child’s fault.  I understand why she would refer to the child as “brown” because it is the color of her skin and that is what children identify. They know crayons and they know colors and when they attempt to describe how someone or something looks they may indeed refer to their color.  Notwithstanding this has given me the desire to begin to educate children around me about race.  I feel as an adult in their lives when this issue presents itself I should take ownership in sharing my knowledge of the world with them.  I can teach them to be open-minded about race and not to reduce their speech to identify others in a derogatory way.  After all, it is the least I can do.


Photo Credit: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/aroundthemall/2011/07/is-race-a-social-construct-the-natural-history-museum-investigates/

© [bkennedyosiro] and [https://letmeseethelight.wordpress.com], [2013]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [bkennedyosiro] and [https://letmeseethelight.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content


2 thoughts on “Race and Racism

  1. We took our then seven year old to a place where she, as a caucasian, was in the minority. A little girl ran up to her saying, “Oh! A white girl! A white girl!” She then proceeded to touch our little girl’s hair and skin, enthralled with someone who looked different than she did. Our little girl, while scared at first, reached out and stroked her hair and touched her beads. Should we be offended that our little girl was called white? No, she is white. Should the little girl be offended that our little girl said, “Your skin is pretty like a chocolate bar”? Our little girl is blissfully unaware of race. We don’t talk about race. We talk about people. My parents never talked about race either. I grew up with friends of every color. When I was older, I dated boys of every color. My parents showed me with their actions that people are people regardless of the melanin in their skin (or their trips to the tanning booth). Some people are white. Some are brown. Some are black. Some may be referred to as yellow. Some people are blonde. Some are red-headed. Some have brown hair. Some people are skinny. Some are chubby. These are just descriptions of what they look like. If you are brown, embrace it! If you are black, be proud of that. If you are white, you too can be proud of your heritage. People need to get over their sensitivities and embrace who they are. Only when we accept who we are (regardless of what others say) can we live in a world where color doesn’t matter.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t see race and I am fairly naive about it. Not to say I don’t recognize it when I see it but I don’t seem to acknowledge color. I think it is sad the perceptions of those around me have tainted my vision but I am thankful that I am able to keep an open mind. Personally I have mixed emotions as my heritage is Caucasian and African American.

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