Race is a concept that minority children cannot avoid; simply becoming aware that they do not look like their favorite television characters will inevitably make a child wonder why they look different. This can spark a conversation and awareness on the part of parents of minority children regarding diversity and make the topic unavoidable. White children and their parents, however, do not have this blatant “opening” and so oftentimes it is never addressed. Furthermore, white parents may simply think that topics such as diversity, race or multiculturalism are not even relevant to them.
Promoting diversity to our children is important and relevant to parents of all backgrounds, races and cultures. Yet, there seems to be a hesitance on the part of white parents to “touch” the topic of diversity with many having a sentiment that it simply does not apply to them. Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote a comprehensive article for Slate where she, as a white parent, brought up concerns about the long term consequences of having her children unexposed to other races in her predominately white community. She also made clear that this topic was one that she had to take on herself saying, “For many minority parents, talking about race is not an option—it’s essential in helping their children move through a world that sees a “black kid” and not just a kid”. Melinda went on to explain the reason she never broached the subject, “I’ve avoided talking about race with my kids mainly because I’ve thought that racial bias is learned by direct instruction and imitation—and that if I don’t talk about race or act in explicitly racist ways, my kids won’t pick up prejudices”. This is a sentiment that according to Wenner is held by many other white parents.
The idea of being “colorblind” and simply avoiding talking about differences has been a persistent and outdated philosophy which only lends to more prejudice and exclusion. Beyond hesitance, it is sometimes a topic that is not even on the radar of white parents. Ali Michael and Eleonora Bartolli in their article, “What White Children Need to Know About Race” explained, “Growing up in the suburban Midwest, I (Ali Michael) never talked about race with my family. We were white, all of our neighbors were white, and it never occurred to us that there was anything to say about that”. Ali went on to say, “it inadvertently sent me the message that race was on a very short list of topics that polite people do not discuss. My parents did not intend for me to receive this message, but because we never talked about race, I learned to feel embarrassed whenever it came up”. Silence itself is an important message as it determines what you as a parent deem to be unimportant.
So why is it actually important to actually have these conversations with children and expose them to a multitude of cultures? We live in a multicultural society; allowing children to have a positive understanding of all the cultures that make up our world will allow them to experience beautiful traditions, music, art, celebrations and most importantly….people. Promoting and supporting diversity is something that will stay with children forever and allow them to experience so much more of the world.
Little Proud Kid
A place to celebrate all people… one people. We focus on bringing an array of multicultural toys, books, resources and more to help you teach and celebrate the uniqueness in each and every child.