Racism isn’t born, we learn it. We live in a racist society. Racism is everywhere. That is why rather than ignoring it, we face it head on because, unfortunately, no school is going to teach my child how to live and engage in a racist society without becoming racist. That’s why I believe it is important that we begin teaching children about racism in our homes.
If my husband, white heterosexual cis-male, and I don’t address it and intentionally take steps to eradicate it, it will inadvertently seep into our house and into our son. It’s never too early to take action!
It is my duty as a mother and a white person with privilege to spread this message and eradicate racism as much as I can.
20 Ways That We Eradicate Racism With Our Child:
1) We talk about how no one race is superior to any other race. That the color of a person’s skin has no influence on how we treat one another. That skin color and the subtle differences in our bodies has to do with evolution. That these traits occur because our ancestors evolved to adapt to their environment.
2) We talk to our child about his privileges. He is a white male living in a society where he is automatically accepted, trusted, loved, and elevated in status because of his skin color and sex.
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3) We talk about racist incidents in front of him and where it stems from in our society and it’s historical reference.
4) We read books with main characters who come from various ethnic and religious backgrounds. Even when I was pregnant I checked out books that featured main characters from a variety of cultures and languages.
5) I speak to him in Spanish as much as possible and as much as I know. Any other words from other languages that I know I add in. Hebrew, Yiddish, Mandarin are some of the other languages that we frequently throw in. I also encourage people to engage with him in a language that they speak. Knowing another language allows people to understand and appreciate cultures and traditions.
6) We talk about the importance of equity as opposed to equality. We understand that people aren’t born into the same privileges as others. All schools are not created equally. So it’s imperative to have opportunities that level the playing field so that marginalized communities are able to not have to work 10 times as hard just to get the same results. That by eliminating those barriers they don’t have to struggle to achieve the same thing as a privileged individual.
7) We HAVE to talk about race. It’s important that we feel comfortable being uncomfortable so that we can be comfortable and not dance around discussing race.
8) My husband, son, and myself put ourselves in spaces and places where we are the “minority”. This is important for us to understand what it means to be in spaces where we are the only individuals in the room from that race. Because this allows us to start to understand how our friends and family might feel living in a society that was born and built on white ideologies.
9) I have friends who are Latina/o, Black, Iraqi, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and my son thus has “aunties” and “uncles” who are individuals from various cultures with different lived experiences.
10) We talk about racist incidents that occur to young children and how the teachers, administrators, parents, and children can behave differently to help eradicate racism.
11) I work in a space where I serve marginalized groups (former foster youth, undocumented students, formerly incarcerated) and surround myself with the injustices of our society so that I am able to check my privilege and in turn teach this to my son.
12) When I was young my Mom had a boss who was a black woman, and my mom raised me with knowing the importance for the community to see a black woman as the head of the school.
At 6 years old this made a huge impact on me. She said the importance of a marginalized community having a leader who is a woman of color was incredibly powerful and that she would never want to step into that role so as to take that away from the community. This was powerful and stuck with me. This is equity.
While she highlighted the importance of marginalized groups serving in positions of power, she failed to address race specifically. She likes living a life where everyone is “the same”. My mom claims not to see race. As a grandmother she doesn’t think of her grandsons as half Korean, just that they are them. But this inevitably furthers racism.
This approach fails to address race and individuals’ lived experiences with rich cultures, histories, and oppression. It discards the hardships that marginalized groups have to endure on a day-to-day basis.
13) I take my son to various cultural celebrations and events throughout the year.
14) We live in a neighborhood that is predominantly Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese. We also have a large community of Latino families as well. If I believe in eradicating racism, I need to align myself with it and that means living it 24/7.
15) We shop at grocery stores and meat markets where the primary language isn’t English. The markets we visit include Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, and Arabic.
16) We take my son to story time in Spanish, ASL, French and Mandarin.
17) Foods from other cultures are included on a daily basis.
18) Our hope and plan is to enroll him in a dual- or tri-immersion school.
19) We travel to places and learn about the history and the racist incidents that occurred there. We read aloud these historical passages and converse about it.
20) I don’t want him to get the “best education”, because that typically means that the school is segregated. Schools today are more segregated than they were in the 1950s!
I want to do my part to cast a light on the injustices that racism causes in our society. As a Mama I can fight this by teaching my child to eradicate racism through lived experiences, lending an ear to the racist incidents that happen to friends, and putting ourselves in spaces where we might start to feel just how uncomfortable it is to live in a community that wasn’t designed and built to allow you to succeed.
I hope we can continue to examine our own biases so that we can prevent them from continuing to future generations. Let’s work to eradicate racism and one day hope to live in a post-racist society . As parent’s we have such power in terms of how we shape our children.
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Infinite love and light,
Author: J Kontos
Hi! I’m J; a full-time Mama by choice and a part-time academic, personal, and career counselor by profession (and by choice as well). I received my Master’s in Counseling and a Bachelor’s in Human Services. My infant, Kaiden, has gifted me with being his Mama. I love all things wiener dogs, coffee, and hearts. I’m waiving hi to you from sunny San Diego!
Infinite love and light, – J