Raising Kids in a RACE Conscience World
Everyone loves a good DIY tip. How about DIY Social Improvement. By Parents, FOR OUR CHILDREN
Race relations are an issue we must face. All of the above concepts and issues literally swirl around us every day as Americans. We turn on the news, and we encounter it. We go to the store, and we encounter it. We all feel it - whether you are white and feel you are not racist, whether you are black and feel you have been profiled, whether you want to be a part of it or want to ignore it altogether. Now, factor in a complex element... you are a parent.
As parents, it is our prime directive to educate and guide our children. As parents, we shield our children from the worst of society and work to give them a hopeful outlook on the world. We cannot, however, raise our children to be socially unaware of the world they live in or incapable of handling complex issues they will most assuredly face. Race relations in America is one of those issues. Donald Trump wants to build a wall, cities like Baltimore and Charleston headline major newscasts because of tense protest, social media is abuzz with images of black men being killed, and even companies like Ben and Jerry's are weighing in with opinions. How can socially conscience parents raise a child who is educated and comfortable dealing with the social complexities of race?
No matter your ethnic or racial background, talking to your children at an early age will help them be at ease having dialogues about issues that even adults can struggle with. Starting a conversation is easy. Ask your child what they know about race relations or stories that may be playing on the evening news. Then, just listen. It will probably be harder for parents than children to have these conversations. Odds are your child has his/her own set of beliefs as to what is going on and what should be done, and then start to guide and navigate them through the process.
Our children are of a different generation. They have witnessed a minority president in their youth. For kids, this can simply be relegated to a fact rather than historical significance. Kids at very young ages have their own devices and access to Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and more. I can promise you it is very real fact that they are being exposed to more social issues than you realize. Social media is a hot bed for social activism, grass root movements, and a general platform for celebrities and common folk alike to voice their views on various social topics - ESPECIALLY race based issues in America. Anything can go "viral" these days and more and more of these post are about complex social interactions between people of different races. How are you addressing this exposure?
Exposure to something is typically bad. If your child is exposed to the flu, it's bad. If your child is exposed to drug usage, it's bad. If your child is exposed to graphic television images, it's bad. But I'm not so sure being exposed to #BlacklivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, and #BlueLivesMatter arguments are inherently bad. Having dialogues and teaching our children about these issues creates a generation of kids who see significant social changes become common place. Example, parents of the 60's tended to be very aware of racial issues due to the height of the Civil Right Movement. We talked about race. This produced a generation of children that found it common place to attend school with and enjoy friends of all different backgrounds. Social change happens when we all contribute a small part and often times that small part is simply acknowledging the issues.
Agreeing to Disagree is Necessary.
Think #BlackLivesMatter is a crock and a divisive movement? That's fine. Personally, I feel that police brutality is an issue that plagues minority communities and something has to be done. Great. Think Trump is the guy for the job and his views on immigrants and minorities are in line with your views? That is your right. As a parent, however, you are not a Democrat, a Republican, a protester, or an HR employee strapped in by the PC police. Love is what should guide you. Simple truths, humans are all equal, but all humans are flawed. Hear your children out. Then tell them enough of the truth that they grow into adults who help fix problems and make the world a better place. Respecting others' view points is something children are good at. “Bobby has on a blue shirt, but I don't like blue. It's ok, Bobby is still my friend.” Teach empathy vs apathy. Let's talk about how various racial groups may feel and understand why others may feel that way. Ignorance of social issues will only cripple children as they will undoubtedly encounter these issues one way or another. Don't let them be blindsided or close-minded.
Every parent no matter the racial or socioeconomic background needs to help their child have a diverse upbringing. Get out and befriend families of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Learn about one another. Most importantly, give your children a world where having a Jewish friend, Indian friend, Mexican friend, and a Muslim friend is completely normal. Coupled with honest conversation, communication and loving guidance from parents we can accomplish just that and make the world a better place. Nothing should be as important as productive progress and having a safer, happier America for our children.
What are some of the conversations you are having/had with your children about this or similar topics? Comment below.