How far back does White Supremacy and racism go? The 60’s? The abolition of slavery? Christopher Columbus? Well, the answer is that racism dates back thousands of years. The enslavement of cultures by White Supremacists is a terrible and painful part of human history. As a Black mom, living in a very white neighborhood, I will stand up and testify that racism still affects many Americans today. Sadly, I know this because my family deals with it on a pretty regular basis.
For parents, living in this day and age, teaching about racism and instilling anti-racist values in our children can seem perplexing and paralyzing. Especially because most History curriculum and literature is recorded from and has been passed down through White family’s and their perspective.
“One of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to the facts.
— -C. S. Lewis Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Fact: From 1789 to 1850 80% of US Presidents owned slaves while serving as President.
Fact: Since the first Colonial Congress in 1774 until today, over 12,000 people have served in Congress and over that period only 3% have been People of Color or women. And of that 3%, one third are serving RIGHT NOW. Which means that all the rest of that 97% were white men. Voted in by other white men. (Remember that women couldn’t vote until 1920 and Blacks couldn’t vote until 1965.)
Fact: From 1880 to 1968, roughly 4,700 people were lynched in America. That’s at least one a week, for 88 years. And those are only the ones that were recorded. Imagine how many were not.
Fact: Abraham Lincoln, although he freed the slaves, was racist. He only freed them as he saw it was the only way to save the Union. From his own words “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races…there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
Fact: Fact: Mississippi didn’t ratify the 13th amendment (the one that freed the slaves), till 2013.
Fact: White kids used to be released during their school lunch breaks, to watch Blacks being lynched. It was simply ‘pop culture’. If the Blacks tried to escape being burned alive or beaten, they would have their fingers cut off and handed out as souvenirs to the children.
When you look at History this way, you can start to understand why (due to biased influences and generations of policy), People of Color have been practically set up to fail for hundreds of years.
Tips On Teaching Your Children About Racism
From my perspective, there are three essential things you, as a parent, need to recognize as you start this lifelong journey of teaching Anti-Racism to your children.
Recognize: That in order to understand race, and to truly stop racist fears or tendencies, you need think about the parameters you set up for your children on an everyday basis. The interactions your children have matter greatly. Who you make jokes about, invite over for dinner, or deliver cookies to. Which kids are in their classrooms and extracurricular activities, all these things are in large part determined by you, influence their understanding of race and the value of their race over another’s each and every day.
Recognize: That silence has a very distinct loudness. If you avoid having hard and meaningful conversations with your children about race, they will likely grow up believing that you had no strong opinion on the subject, or that racism isn’t real or important enough to talk about.
Recognize: We have to counteract what mainstream media is teaching our children as not just being acceptable, but desirable. Think Barbies, and superhero toys. Think protagonists in children’s movies and literature. The chiseled white prince or hero—often a brunette male, and the sought out, popular heroine, often blue-eyed and shapely. If there is a person of color (Black or otherwise), they are often a non-essential character, or worse, made out to be the bad guy (obviously, these are huge generalizations, but I am sure you get the point.) Diversify your bookshelves and DVD collections with titles containing People of Color as the main character. Or, if costs prevents you from buying anything new for a while, at least ensure that when reading aloud, you point out racist statements, and discuss why the author wrote the book that way, classics such as Little House on the Prairie, Dr Seuss, Huckleberry Finn, are a great place to start.
Teaching about Racism and instilling Anti-Racism is an important and powerful responsibility. It takes courage, and diligence to chip away at the status quo of our racial and economic fears. I honor you, and am honored by you.
Anti-racism resources for white people, a widely-shared Google doc, it has lists of videos to watch, articles to read, podcasts to listen to, etc, that can form a firm foundation for understanding racism in America.
75 things white people can do for racial justice is a deeply-researched, frequently-updated document curated by Medium contributor Corinne Shutack that provides a checklist of action items to help fight back against racism.
RESOURCES FOR LITTLES
When it comes to young kids, acting out, storytelling and modeling the behaviors we want them to copy are the best ways to teach any subject—and that especially includes celebrating racial and cultural differences and rejecting racism.
The Brown Bookshelf promotes African American children’s book authors and illustrators.
The Conscious Kid, an advocacy group that works to raise awareness through literature, offers book bundles focused on racial and social justice for children ages 0-3 (and beyond).
#BlackLivesMatter #BreonnaTaylor #AhmaudArbery #irunwithmaud
Originally published on HappyHomeschoolNest.com