I do agree that racist attitudes and outlooks are ingrained in the individual over time. It is important for white parents as well as parents of minorities to educate their children on the history of race relations in America. Children are shaped at school AND at home by those that care for them. And we all know that many school curriculum only cover the nice side of slavery, Jim Crow, systematic oppression and the socioeconomic disadvantage that plagues African Americans.
I understand you may not want to have all of these conversations all at once and as a parent you need to gauge when your child is ready for certain topics. But, a parent should be sure to research the disadvantages of minorities and stereotypes.
You can explain that, when people say “all black people are poor and uneducated” this is untrue, and increasing number of blacks are graduating from college, opening businesses and buying homes. Of course not at the same rate as white people due to the past and current lack of mentors for minorities in higher education institutions, predatory lending in home and business loans and less accumulated family wealth. This is just one example.
There are many layers to this issue but it is not impossible to build a stronger more aware generation of black AND white youth. It all comes with time and the correct information. Fear and lies only fuel the issue.
You have heard correctly. From perceptions of beauty, intelligence, worth, (among other focal points) racist attitudes and practices can be and have been ingrained at an early age.
I think the first step is to take a look at the the environment in which your child is being raised. Are there certain side comments you’ve made that maybe you consider dismissive but actually hold impact? Have you heard or seen something questionable on tv, the radio, social media and actually addressed it in conversation? Have you ever talked to your child about their perception of race? You may be surprised where they stand (regardless of age.)
The most important thing that can be done is not to dismiss racism as something that does not apply to you, but rather incorporate it as you do other basic life teachings that you feel are essential to your child’s life experience. If you don’t know why something may be considered offensive or do not know the history of a specific event, word, etc., ask, explore, find out. In doing that, not only are you helping your child but you are further educating yourself which, in the long run combats the one thing that allows racism to thrive: ignorance.
This is a wonderful question that I wished many parents would ask. The fact that you do want to have this conversation with your children is an excellent effort to combat prejudice and racism.
First, you should sit your children down and tell them that when the United States was founded, it was an agriculture society that needed people to work the land. At first Native Americans but this plan soon failed because of their knowledge of the land. So they decided to acquire Africans who were prisoners of war from battles between ethnic groups in their homeland. The Colonists found it profitable to continue to import these people. So that the Africans would not run away, the Colonist had to break their spirit and make the Africans feel inferior by stripping them of their native language and tradition. The English were successful however, many Africans that were brought to Latin America and the Caribbean continue many of their traditions in the present day. Currently, Americans of African descent are free but many of the descendants of the Colonist still harbor the feelings of their forefathers. We must treat each other equally because we are all human beings.