Odds are pretty high that while scrolling your Facebook timeline after tucking your kids into bed, you’ve seen something along the lines of “I was raised not to see color” or “I teach my kids not to see color.” Honestly, you might’ve said it yourself a few times, and although I somewhat get the intent behind it, I absolutely hate it when people say that.
Personally, I think it can be an excuse not to address the real issues our country has and a way to avoid the topic of race all together.
I’m a firm believer that if you teach your child not to see race, then they can’t see racism.
And that can often lead to refusing to acknowledge the struggles of people who don’t look like them.
If I’m being honest, I don’t have the luxury of not discussing race.
As an African American mother with two biracial children, these conversations are necessary. I don’t have the privilege of just ignoring the topic, due to the unconscious biases and blatant racism in this country. It’s my duty to educate my girls on the history of racism and the sacrifices of their ancestors. The only way history can’t repeat itself is by acknowledging it and learning from it.
My daughters started asking questions about skin color at very young ages. They have also dealt with issues regarding the color of their skin.
Why isn’t daddy brown like us?
The first time my daughter acknowledged skin color was when she was three. “Mom, why isn’t daddy brown like us?” I could’ve hushed her or laughed it off; however, I took the opportunity to teach her about race. We talked about the beauty in my skin tone, her skin tone, and my husband’s skin tone. We kept it simple, short, and age-appropriate.
You would be prettier with blonde hair . . .
Although we had already discussed the differences and beauty of skin tones, ethnicities, and cultures with our children, it still wasn’t enough to shield them from the outside world. When my daughter started Pre-K, she was the only minority in her class, and one day she came home very upset. Her new friend told her that she would be prettier with blonde hair and skin like hers. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I was livid. But I quickly realized it wasn’t the child’s fault. When you don’t address race with your kids, situations like this are bound to happen. And although to the outside eye it may seem innocent, it had a huge impact on my daughter– so much that we had to create a daily mantra for her to love her brown skin and curly hair.
For some, it can be difficult or feel awkward to have conversations about race
However, you will be doing your kids a huge disservice by sending them out in the world without fully educating them. Not everyone will look like them, have the same religion or beliefs as they have, and that is okay. That’s what makes the world so beautiful.
My goal as a mother is to teach my kids to acknowledge the beauty in all people as well as their struggles. That should be a goal for every mom.
By no means am I an expert, but here are a few ways that helped me teach my kids to acknowledge the differences and beauty in others.
1. Take the Time to Educate Yourself First!
We all know kids can ask a zillion questions, so before you start a conversation, make sure you are prepared. Do your research on racism in America and acknowledge/address your own racial biases. Stock up on age-appropriate books for your kiddos to better answer their questions. Barnes & Noble, Target, and Amazon have wonderful selections for all ages.
2. Diversity in Books, Toys, and Art
- Make sure your child’s personal library is filled with books that feature characters of different races and cultures.
- Have dolls and action figures of all colors, shapes, and sizes.
- Create/buy artwork that celebrates all races and cultures. I personally love the Crayola Multicultural crayons and markers.
3. Acknowledge the Beauty, the Differences, and the Struggles
When your child makes an observation regarding race, don’t shut it down. Instead, open up the floor for healthy conversation. Seeing color isn’t a bad thing. It’s perfectly fine to acknowledge the differences. It’s only bad when you treat people differently based on the color of their skin.
Let’s turn my unpopular opinion into a popular one! Teach your kids to see color, to celebrate the beautiful differences, and to acknowledge the struggles of people who don’t necessarily look like them!
Originally published December 2020.