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Racism is a Learned Behavior in Children

Welcome to the year 2013 where race and racism is still an issue in our country, even amongst the youngest members of our society.

I was appalled when a friend contacted me with a tale about her girlfriend who had to pull her pre-school aged daughter out of class because other little girls wouldn’t play with her. The other girls’ reasoning? Because she is black.

This struck me for two reasons, the first being the words that were used. She is black. Now, when my oldest son was growing up we never really discussed color. We still don’t in our house because race isn’t something we see or something that bothers us. We treat everyone equally. When he started to discover people of other races, he would say stuff like, “So and so has a brown face,” which instantly mortified me, but if you look at it from an outside point of view, he is right.

Brown is the color of some children’s skin. Then there are the pasty white people like me and my kids. They call themselves yellow. But in a racist world, the terms like black, or Asian, or other ethnic-born terms, come into play.

Children are taught these terms by parents, or other adults in their lives. These are not terms they are typically picking up on the playground or from television. (And if they are, they shouldn’t be watching that kind of programming while they are a pre-schooler!)

Which brings me to a quote I heard years ago from one of my favorite but raunchy comedians, Denis Leary.

“Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.”

Which couldn’t be more true. These are learned behaviors which are taught to our children.

I don’t know about you, but the list of things my children actually hate is short. Carrots, naps, bed time, cleaning up… I mean, these are all things the typical toddler can be expected to rebel against. A child of a different race shouldn’t be on that list. Period people!

If we shrug off color or race when our children bring it up like it is a non-issue (which is exactly what race is!), then maybe we could curb the next generation of racism in our country?

Because lets face it, no child should have to leave school because she is black and other children won’t play with her. That right there is a damn shame. And not something that should be happening in 2013.

That is a sad day for America!

How do you discuss race with your children when they bring it up?

Photo Credit: Flickr

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