Educating our children about race

Written by Georgette Quinn

I know it sounds like I just said a bad word. Doesn’t it? I mean we are supposed to act like everyone is exactly the same and that racism doesn’t exist. We all know that is not true. If you don’t know that racism is alive and well then you live in a bubble. I don’t have a bubble. My bubble busted wide open when I dated outside of my race. I even wrote an article about that for the school paper. But this blog is going to be about how we (as parents and teachers) need to educate our children about race, differences, acceptance, and racism.

I believe books are a great way to bring up a tough topic. If you start early with books then your child(ren) will ask questions as they grow. One of the best books to start with is a little critter book. It is not being printed anymore but I loved this book so much that I bought it on Amazon and it was worth it. It is called “Just a Little Different”. It is about a 1/2 rabbit 1/2 turtle new to town. It covers racism and how it only takes one little critter to make everyone else realize that we are more alike than different. Just because we look different doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. Of course this book hit home with my biracial daughter. She pointed out how unfair it is that the other critters wouldn’t play with him. It was our first conversation about racism. I wish we never had to talk about racism. I wish it didn’t exist. I wish I could protect her from all the ignorant, racist people in the world, but I can’t. So I am going to educate her about how to recognize racism and what to do.

This leads to another great book. “The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism” by Pat Thomas does an excellent job in simplifying racism to a point that a child can understand. It also asks questions to get your child to think about racism and how to stand up against it. “The Story of Ruby Bridges” tells an excellent true story about a first grader who was the first black child to attend an all-white school in New Orleans. It shows the bravery she endured to make changes for all of us. There is an amazing movie about it that literally brought tears to my eyes. Now that my daughter is in second grade we have moved on to books like “Henry’s Freedom Box”.

I was taught you can either fight everyone who says something mean, or you can walk away and pray for them, or you can try to educate them on why they are wrong. That is really all you can do. As a child you can get the help of an adult. I try to go with education and praying for them. I combine a few.

I think it is just as important to educate your child even if you live in an area that has no diversity. Your child should know about the world. I grew up in Joliet, Illinois, a huge and diverse town. Then I moved to Medora, Illinois an all-white town. I have seen ignorance in both places. It is our job to prepare our children for the world. We need to stop turning a blind eye and acting like racism doesn’t exist. If your children are of color then you need to prepare them for what to do when they encounter racism, just like you prepare your children for what to do if they encounter a bully. Also if your children aren’t of color ,you need to teach them how to stand up for someone who is being discriminated against; just like you should teach your children to help a child who is being bullied. I think education can go a long way in combating against racism. Okay I am getting off my soap box for now. But if you have questions or thoughts let me know.

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