I downloaded & read the NurtureShock book recently, and found it fascinating. A lot of the chapters weren’t anything hugely significant or shocking, but one chapter especially had me absorbed. It was the chapter concerning race and how we teach our kids about race. More specifically, how we don’t teach our kids about race.
Now, race and prejudices, minorities and the equality of all men, have always been a hobby horse of mine that I climb aboard and can go on and on for quite awhile. So it’s been kind of a big deal to me that my kids are color-blind. Since I don’t notice those things, and certainly don’t draw attention to skin color, my kids won’t either. Logical, right? I really thought my kids would absorb my color-blind attitude. I really thought they wouldn’t notice that a black or Asian person looks different than them.
News flash!! They do notice. It is naïve to think that they won’t. And if they are living in a parent created “race- free vacuum” they are quick to improvise their own conclusions. This book says that 80% of white parents do not talk to their kids about race. They are afraid of saying the wrong thing. I can so identify with that. NurtureShock also surprised me by saying that having a multi-cultural setting has little to no effect on small children’s attitudes about race.
I was reading the book during the Winter Olympics. So, drum roll please….Elena & I are watching figure skating… and if you followed it at all, you know where this is going. We watched Kim Yu-Na. She is adorable. So graceful. So beautiful.
And Elena goes
“No, no, not her. I don’t like her at all.”
We watch Mirai Nagasu, and Elena goes
“Not her again, I’m so tired of her.”
As a light bulb flashed in my head, I say,
“Duh my child, that is not the same person”.
So I pressed her, and fished from her why exactly she didn’t like those figure skaters.
And profoundly she said:
“Because I don’t like their faces. Or their hair.”
So that, my friends, is when I was humbled to discover that my own daughter, through no fault of her own, is an anti-Asian racist. I didn’t flip out. It actually made me smile and think “OMW the book is right! She is totally rooting for the people who look like her.
But the book did inspire me to boldly go where white parents don’t go, and talk about race. Not vaguely as in “God loves us all the same” because kids are not going to connect the dots and realize we are talking about race if we don’t tell them. Get over trying to be politically correct. Get over the fear of saying the wrong thing.
I don’t have a neat and tidy ending. But the new and improved mom tried to tell her daughter that she has a black cousin through adoption. All in the name to bring about racial awareness, to break down those walls!
E: “No Mom she’s not black.”
Me: “Yes, Elena she is.”
E: “Look here’s a picture and I told you she’s not black.”
Gene walks through the room while we’re arguing, with a peculiar look on his face, obviously thinking I’m losing my marbles for making an issue out of this. So I let the matter drop, feeling insecure again that maybe I have lost my marbles, even if the book says we should talk about these things. But I’m thinking that Elena’s need to have her cousin white just proves my point.
For the record, I have no fears of her being racist in the long-term. Not on my watch.