Do you know if it is your voice your kid hears in the back of their mind when they’re at a moral crossroad?

There is something that sadly makes me go “hmmm” almost every single day now.  That is reading about people who dislike other people to the point of threatening their lives because of the colour of their skin.

What is that all about?

Where does that come from?

I don’t understand hatred on a good day, I mean I get anger, I’ve had people piss me off to the point that I wish I’d never met them, or wishing I could speak my mind to certain people who just rub me the wrong way. But blind hatred toward a person who has never done anything to me based on the colour of their skin.  I don’t get it.  My heart broke wide open today when I watched a video of a young boy who had been threatened simply because of the colour of his skin.  This 11 year old boy was so fearful after a group of Utah youths yelled racial slurs at him that he told his mom he was afraid they would shoot him.

Seriously, where does that come from?

What the hell is up with that?  Who are the people responsible for raising young children to be racist?  I can assure you that when I was 11, I had no idea that other people with different colour skin were any different than me.  Meaning I didn’t see in colour.  I just saw other kids.  I don’t recall a single conversation in my home that addressed people by the colour of their skin.  I don’t recall me or my friends ever even discussing it, ever.  So why do so many kids seem to think like this these days?  It must be coming from home, I don’t know where else these kids could be getting it from.

Whenever I write these posts that call parents higher, asking them to be more present in their relationships with their kids: to ask them about their days, to make sure to ask them pointed questions about how they treat people, I tend to get a lot of angry messages back. Which I totally don’t understand.  I mean if you’re an awesome parent who is doing everything in their power to not end up with a racist bully, then this blog isn’t about you, or for you.  But if there are some areas where you might be slacking, or if something I’m suggesting here helps you amp up your parenting, then cool.  To ensure you’re not raising a racist is really simple.

Check in with your kid to see if they think people who aren’t white are “less deserving” or “worthy” and if they have ever bullied somebody because of the colour of their skin.  It is ultimately on us parents to know what our kids are doing when they’re not with us.  So many parents write me and give me hell after these sort of posts; saying things like they’re decent parents raising decent people.  Cool.  Good for you.  But so was I, and I still had one daughter who bullied, even though she knew not to.  You, as a a parent can be doing everything right, but if you’re not asking your kid the tough questions, digging in deep and making sure you’re getting the truth out of your child you’ll never know if they’re racist when with their peers, when they’re being “cool” and trying to “fit in” with the crowd.  If you’re a parent who isn’t yelling racial slurs in your home, it doesn’t mean that your kid isn’t joining in with other kids who are seeing that in their homes.  Kids will do strange things when in a crowd.  They will buck everything you’ve ever taught them when faced with being bullied, or saving their own skin and joining in with them.  Trust me, I know this all too well, because I became a bully in the seventh grade to stop myself from being bullied.  I had had enough, I wanted to just go to school without fear of being taunted, followed, or worse, beaten up.  So I went into self preservation mode, and joined forces with my bully.  I hated every minute of it, but it was the only thing I knew to do.

This could be your kid.  My mom wasn’t a bully, but I became one to save myself.  You’re probably not racist, but your kid might be joining in on picking on a classmate who is of a different race because they’re too afraid to stand up for those kids.  You’ll never know which side of the fence your child is on, unless you ask.  Don’t just stop at asking them, ask their teachers too.  Get to the bottom of it, because my friends we’re in a truly ugly time in our history, and I know you want to be on the right side of it.  We all know that the right side of history is that the colour of somebody’s skin doesn’t make them any less than you or me, who for reasons that have nothing to do with us, were fortunate to be born white.  Don’t simply assume because you’re not racist that your kid isn’t learning how to be one on the school playground. The key to being an assume parent is to never stop learning who your child is, because remember, from Monday-Friday they spend more time with the kids they go to school with than they do with you. Make sure it is your voice they hear in the back of their minds when they’re standing at a moral crossroad.

3 Comments

  1. Dearest Shantelle?
    everything you have said is right. We as parents have a responsibility to our children to explain that it’s okay to be true to yourself. Don’t be a follower be a leader…One person who stands up can make a difference. 🐝bj

  2. Parents need to be truly involved with their children and need to teach by example. When I was a young girl, I witnessed my mother wade into a large group of white teenagers bullying one black girl walking down our street (we are white and this was in the 50s) ) and by the power of her words and her strength of purpose, (and maybe by the grace of God) they stopped. Now I am not naive enough to think that stopped them forever but it set the tone for me. It was my Mom who showed me the importance of caring for other people no matter what their color and I took that into my future. That was more dramatic than anything I did raising my children, but it was never a consideration to look down on anyone of another color much less to hate them because of it, and they have become caring adults and parents themselves. It has to start with the parents, If you are reading this and it hasn’t started in your family, then start it yourself. Love is Love whatever it’s color.
    Thank you Shantelle for being so passionate in your life and words.

  3. The hate part is learned from parents and friends I’m sure, but the racial stereotype part can slide in sideways. On a long car ride home with just my teenaged grandson and me he told me there were no black kids in his AP classes in high school and he thought that was because they were lazy and got their kicks from sports. He has African American friends, plays basketball with them, hangs out in mixed race groups and he still thinks this. His mom dances in a mixed race company, his parents have a very diverse group of friends and go to each other’s houses. He did not get this attitude from home. So we had a long talk about white privilege and how the deck is stacked against minorities. I don’t know how much I persuaded him but I told his mom in confidence and I’m sure there will be more dinner table discussions on this topic. Just because you don’t model discrimination doesn’t mean kids won’t pick up the vibes from society. You have to teach them it’s wrong and why.

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