I don’t remember having conversations about race and diversity when I was a child. I had Black friends in school, my family had Black friends and neighbors. We were all the same. Right?
People are different. We experience the world differently and the world experiences us differently. If you asked me what it was like to try on clothes at a store I would drone on about how frustrating it was to find clothes in my size, how warm the dressing rooms can be, and how often plus sized clothes seem over-priced. If you asked a person of color to tell you about trying on clothes in a store do you think it would be the same story or do you think there would be another layer?
That’s a very, very overly simplistic way of looking at the differences of the human experience, but as parents we need to first make sure we can acknowledge that there ARE differences.
W and I talk about race often. He brings it up and I bring it up. He notices how people are different. Then we see how people are similar. When it comes to skin he knows there are so many different shades. Every shade is just right.
Children want to talk about diversity and cultures. Please don’t shut down a conversation about race if one happens on the way home from school. Please also don’t fall into the “color blind” trap. Talking about race will not turn your white child into a racist.
This information from a recent Slate article has stuck with me. “A Northwestern University study found that when kids aged 8 to 11 were taught about diversity as a value, they were better able to detect evidence of racial discrimination than were kids who had been taught a “color-blind” message.”
I love that. By teaching our kids how fantastic it is to be different we also are helping them be better allies.