The entire world stood up against racism and fought for justice. That didn’t bring George Floyd back though. That didn’t bring his wife’s husband or his daughter’s father back. So what do we do to prevent another life from being lost to racism? we teach our children how NOT to be racist. They say learning begins from the cradle to the grave, we have to implement change by involving the future of our world: our kids.
To begin with, whether we like it or not, children will notice physical changes between other children of different races.
This isn’t something we can blind them from, but we can bring healthy conversations about race and racism into our daily lives to prevent them from assuming the differences they see means either one of superior or inferior. Regardless of racism being a social construct, speaking about it will actually help more than harm the situation.
Studies have shown that transparent, healthy, and open conversations about race and racism can actually make white children less prejudiced and boost the confidence and self-love of children of color. These conversations can include things like positive aspects or traits of each race.
You can also encourage your child to establish friendships with children of different races, this helps in removing any barriers of empathy and thus, making sure prejudice doesn’t occur. According to a study, children within schools that encourage cross-group friendships are more prone to seeing what roles race plays in social exclusion and being against this behavior.
Furthermore, when we’re young, we usually see our parents as our role models. Thus, it is vital that parents themselves also interact and form friendships with other adults of different races.
“It’s so much more organic to reduce bias by developing intergroup friendships because it changes your attitudes through a very human mechanism, which is interpersonal,” says Psychologist, Mendoza-Denton.
Finally, amongst a number of other things, parents need to explicitly speak about the effects of racism. According to research when white parents were told to have conversations about race with their children as part of a study, they had trouble doing so themselves.
However, those that directly spoke to their kids about it managed to create a more positive image within the child’s minds. In fact, their children showed much more favorable behaviors towards people of color.
Back to the part about white parents having trouble speaking about race directly, Psychologists believe that there are psychological barriers in place that make discussions about race uncomfortable to have. So the first step to actually combating racism and teaching our children is to first accustom yourself to having these conversations regardless of how awkward it may seem and to educate ourselves on racial issues.
After all, we are the stepping stone into the future, our beliefs, our conversations, our behavior will be carried over in the form of our children. We need to make sure what we give them of ourselves is what we’re proud of – something the world can be proud of too.