Guest post by Bea Moise, M.S, BCCS
The African American community is used to speaking about Race and having conversations with their children about Race. Being part of the Black Community, Race is not a topic that can be avoided; from an early age, we are educated about how to interact with the majority culture, AKA, the white culture. Minorities are aware that at some point in time, they will have to interact with white people, and because of that fact, we are told by our parents what to do.
Most parents want to make sure that they have well-adjusted children. Parents spend plenty of their resources to make sure that their child has the best. However, when it comes to the topic of Race, it presents a different challenge—talking to children about Race and discrimination should not be a taboo conversation. Parents of the majority culture should not feel a sense of embarrassment or confusion when addressing racial issues with their kids. There are no topics excluded when it comes to parenting. The parenting journey is filled with challenges. Each developmental stage presents a new task. Some problems are easier to handle, while others have more complex issues that are not so easily addressed.
What’s been made more popular recently is how black children are taught to behave with the police or a police interaction, but it goes beyond just interacting with law enforcement. We are taught how to be model minorities so that the majority race (white people) do not feel threatened or uncomfortable with our blackness.
If you are a parent and want to teach your child differently and wondering what you can do, here are some suggestions. While these suggestions are not a cure for racism, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
Teach your child to see COLOR
As a black person, I have been told by several white friends, “I don’t see color.” Telling a black person, you don’t see color does not help you become aware of the discrimination they face simply due to their color. Teach your children to see minorities and color, but also to treat them the same as anyone else. When my daughter was 4 years old, she called white people peach and other people brown. We never called anyone white peach, but in her eyes, that was the color she associated with white. She saw color at the tender age of 4, so it is disingenuous to tell a person of color that you are colorblind. Going through life and saying you don’t see color is a lie that minorities do not believe. Let your child talk about different races so that they can grow up to aware. Teaching colorblindness may lead to your child not being able to see the pain and suffering of another minority group is experiencing because of their color.
Be informed about Implicit Bias.
It is fair to say that most of us have some degree of implicit bias within our psyche. Implicit Bias is not a conscious thought that an individual has, but rather it is an unconscious belief about a group; implicit bias is better known as stereotyping.
As a parent, it is essential to leave your bias from childhood; when you educate your child, they are listening, but most importantly, they are watching you. If you are saying one thing but behaving differently, it negates your message. Treat anyone outside of your Race like an individual and not as a collective group. While you may think what you are doing is good, it may not feel suitable for that group. For example, telling your child that little black boy is going to be an athlete, while it’s not harmful, doesn’t make it right.
Open Dialog about Race
Do not wait to have a conversation about Race when something is happening, or when an incident has occurred. As parents, we are preparing our children for future possibilities, anticipating things so that they will be ready and prepared. As a parent, you want to be proactive instead of being reactive. Teach your child about the different cultures, religions, and customs of different races. The African-American community, while it is an American community, the traditions are different from the Caucasian-American. A conversation about Race should not be about whether it is good or bad, but somewhat different. Embracing what is different about others is how children learn to accept others.
Children need to be exposed to different individuals with diverse backgrounds to understand that person truly. It’s easy to be biased towards a group of individuals if you do not have any personal relationship with someone from that group. Having friends with diverse backgrounds will help your child understand how other people live, and even though they may have different skin colors, cultures, or religious beliefs, to name a few, they can still have a lot in common.
Be an Anti-Racist
Being an anti-racist is different than just not being racist. Becoming an Anti-Racist means to actively learn about how people of color are being mistreated and the inequalities and disparities that give the majority culture (white people) advantages. Being an Anti-Racist means, you are looking into the system that you benefit from and how there are racial inequities—speaking up when you see these injustices happening. Being anti-racist means stepping out of your comfort zone and actively working to help create equality that in no shape or form benefits you.
Beatrice (Bea) Moise, M.S., BCCS., is a Board Certified Cognitive Specialist, Parenting Coach, Writer and National Speaker. She is the creator of A Child Like Mine,LLC Bea has worked as a Behavioral Consultant for years with extensive experience working parents of children who have a variety of diagnoses such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, Anxiety Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, & ADHD. She has trained hundreds of families on Parent Management Training. She has provided parents with tools that are useful. Providing parents with practical techniques and teaching strategies.