I remember the first time I realized that my skin was darker than my peers. Different in height, different in size above all different in race. Back then I really could say some of my best friends are white because all of my friends were white. From kindergarten through graduate school, I went to a predominately white school. In elementary school, there were about 10 children of color in the entire school. This was back in the 80's and although there were some racist remarks, I never experienced racism from a teacher or any other adult.
But today is a new time and even those who should be mature about racism are not. For instance, the recent situation that took place at l in Norcross where math problems entailed slaves and beatings. Or the “Whites Only” sign placed outside an apartment complex pool in Ohio. Both of these instances were directed at children. And although we are far removed from the complexities of the civil rights movement, children still run across this kind of foolishness. So what does a parent do when their child experiences racism for the first time? Answer their questions and empower the child.
Don't Ignore: Children will ask questions and although our aim as parents is to protect them from every evil thing in this world. This is not one of those times to ignore their questions. If you ignore these questions, it will give them the impression that you are not the one to talk to. So if you want the other parent or grandma to be responsible for filling in the blanks, so be it. But if you want to take the bull by the horn, don't ignore their questions.
Give Truth: Educate, educate, educate. The more they know the more they will gain wisdom. Take it as far as you want with regards to what you think they can handle. But nonetheless educate them regarding race. There are plenty of and sites on the internet that can give informed answers to their questions.
Empower: Despite the negativity that comes from American history, don't forget to empower your child. Empower them by showing them how people within their race have overcome many obstacles and how they should be proud of the skin their in. Let them know that not everyone will say the right thing or like them solely because they are a good person. Nevertheless, the thoughts of other people do not dictate who we are, nor should we try to get people to like us.
Racism, prejudice and stereotypes have always been and will always be. In order to keep children in a positive mindset about this world, we must listen to them, give truth and empower them. This is sure to help them know how to respond when they experience this as adults.