It’s one thing to proclaim, “I’m not racist I have black friends.” And another to be committed to ending racial injustices and doing the actual work to combat and eventually dismantle it. That is the true commitment to being anti-racist. I know you're thinking, "I'm not racist, she's crazy. I love black people or any person of color for that matter." You were born into privilege by simply being white. Brainwashed bias and stereotypes are engrained in you. You are an unintentional racist.
“You’re black and ugly. We’re going to kill you.” Those were the words 2 six-year-old white girls used to frighten a six-year-old black girl. I was that six-year-old black girl. Did they know the lifelong impact those nine words would have on me? Where did they learn to appropriately place such hate? T.V.? Family? You are responsible for deprogramming yourself, as well as, transforming and educating your child on the truths about racism and their born privilege. You are their first teacher.
“Antiracist Baby is bred, not born. Antiracist Baby is raised to make society transform. Open your eyes to all skin colors. Antiracist Baby learns all the colors, not because race is true. If you claim to be color-blind, you deny what’s right in front of you.”
Children don’t naturally discriminate. It’s a learned behavior. Your child will have questions, and do you want them to pose their questions to you? Do you want them to learn the TRUTH? When you avoid conversations surrounding race, you are allowing society to teach your child about it—half truths or straight up lies are the most likely outcomes of a societal education.
Expose your child to the diversity of the world. Expose them and educate them on other cultures—watch documentaries and movies, read books, and eat the food. Don’t dedicate just one month to Black History. Teach your child Black History all year long. All children need to learn that Black History is World History. Teach them that slaves weren’t rescued and brought over in a boat, but instead were kidnapped from their land, packed together on ships by the hundreds, and were forced to be the property of white slave owners. Don’t shield them from the truth or sensationalize the lie.
Children can internalize racial bias between the ages of 2 and 4 years old. According to Psychology Today, white parents tend to fall into two camps—those who recall in horror embarrassing incidents in which their children made racist comments to strangers or loved ones—and those who are certain their children are colorblind. Children are not blind to race. They notice differences. Children often learn very quickly that simple questions or comments about these observations are shut down, stopped, and hushed with incredible velocity. Children become aware that this topic must be important because unlike their other questions, these ones go unanswered and leave their parents with looks of worry. (Olson, 2013).
What is the first step (or the next step) you will take when raising an anti-racist child? Use your privilege to uplift black people and amplify black voices. Don't just talk about it. Be about it. Teach your child, so that they can teach their peers the truth about race. Take action. Today. Show your child how to use their privilege for good.
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“Respond with an open heart instead of reacting with a closed mind.”
Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi
R. Olson, Kristina. “Are Kids Racist?” Psychology Today, 2 Apr. 2013, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/developing-minds/201304/are-kids-racist.