When my son, Jake, was in preschool, I was his teacher.
I taught in a small center in Pennsauken, New Jersey.
My students were very diverse. There was a wonderful mix of black, hispanic, asian, and white children, and they all played together beautifully.
Over the holidays, we decided to put on a little show for the parents. One of the songs included jingle bells that the kids would be ringing throughout the song. Jake was super excited about the bells and wanted to be sure that my parents could find him during the performance (even though there were only about 15 kids in the class, and there was no chance my mother or father were going to miss him).
Jake gave my mother a tip on how to find him. He said, “Look for the blonde arms.”
My son was not color blind. No one is. He saw the differences between himself and his friends. He wasn’t racist. He loved and accepted everyone in the class.
Looking back, though, I wish I had taken this time to teach him about race and different cultures, because by ignoring it I made it an uncomfortable topic in the house. Instead of addressing it and helping Jake become “anit-racist,” I brushed it off and ultimately encouraged Jake to be “not racist.”
Sitting in silence while an entire race is experiencing pain and daily discrimination is not okay.
Speak to your children. Encourage them to see race and racism, and talk to them about how to handle it.
Be a role model.
Resource for parents: “How to raise anti-racist kids.“