Monday, September 7, 2009


I've been away a while, yes. Being sick sucks. I hadn't actually planned to blog until tomorrow at least, cause today has not been a sunshine day. But I came to this article titled Even Babies Discriminate via Tim Wise (But it's not by Tim Wise) and had to comment.

There's a lot in the piece that's intuitive; like, this idea that not talking to kids about race is the way to raise "colorblind" children. Sorry, white Americans, I didn't realize you guys were doing that. How crazy is that?! I could've told you it wasn't gonna work. I know the present logic is that by not calling attention to race, we diffuse its significance. But that's just like this notion that sex-ed should be abstinence-only, and we see how that's been working out: it hasn't.

Look. Your children aren't blind, even if you have sons who are colorblind. They see the difference in skin color and since you're not saying anything, they're attaching their own meaning to it's significance; and that meaning goes something like this: if you're white, you're alright. Or, to make it sound less hostile: "if you have skin like me, you're okay." Well, that's if you're white. As for black kids, we should all be aware of the babydoll test, so hopefully I don't have to spell that out for you.

Which also brings up the idiocy of not explicitly talking about race with your children from a young age - the media. Or just society in general. Do you leave your children to learn about sex from the media/society? And if so, how many grandkids do you have? Do you not tell your little girls that girls/women can be anything they want to be? You don't get all "everybody's equal" vague then, do you?

So since we now know that not talking to toddlers about skin color is a bad idea, let's disabuse ourselves of this fantasy of a "colorblind" society. And listen, if you don't wanna reinforce, nonsense, then don't say something like, "Not all [fill in the blank] people are [fill in the blank]."

Let's go back to sex-ed for kids, right? And by that I do intend "age appropriate" sex-ed. But when kids ask where babies come from, "the mommy's stomach," is usually sufficient, right? You don't go into the details about ejaculation and menstrual cycles. And when your child asks about the difference between boys and girls, hopefully you don't feed them emptiness like, "Girls are made of sugar and spice." Hopefully you just say girls have vaginae and boys have penises. And depending on your child, you may not have to say that much. Though, it sure would've helped me! I can't remember how, but I somehow got the idea that the difference between boys and girls was that boys could be standing up. Can you guess how a childhood me felt about that? "How convenient!" I can't remember how old I was when I gave up on the idea that I, too, should at least have the option of peeing standing up; I continue to await the invention of the female urinal!

So when talking to your kids about race, stick to skin-color. You don't have to recount slavery; though, for older kids, dealing with history truthfully is a good thing. Just say something like, "America has people from all over world. Our ancestors are from [fill in the blank], that's why our skin looks like this. My/your friend's ancestors are from [fill in the blank], that's why his/her skin looks like that." And for all you multi/bi-racial Americans: "I/you have ancestors from [here] and [here], that's why you have that color!"

You know what else this article discusses? It talks about the fact that black parents, or any parent of a child of color, preparing their child from discrimination is a good thing. That's why you can find just about any Black church pastor mentioning racism on any given Sunday. Now, don't get me wrong, you can overdo it and get negative results. But here's the thing far too many white people don't know or don't want to admit: black folks don't spend our all the time talking about "white devils."

So anyway, it's a great article. I haven't given away much at all, I promise you.

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