This post was originally published in October of 2016 but it rings especially true today, in face of the protests that are taking place against police violence. Black Lives Matter. There should be justice and racial equality. Reform is needed to bring this about. Racism is wrong. We all need to be anti racist. I hope Veronika Obeng’s words about raising kids in a race conscious world help open hearts and minds. I think her words are super helpful for parents to know how to talk with kids about racial equality.
Original Post Below
I recently made the acquaintance of Veronika Obeng and discovered her lovely blog Modern Womanhood. She is a mother of six, television personality and blogger based in Bel Air, CA. Her upcoming show, Second Wives Club, Premiers on E! in early 2017. Her blog is all about her life as a mother of six in Los Angeles who attempts to balance family and keeping in touch with herself, her goals, dreams and beauty. She pointed out to me that although I have articles about accepting diversity, I have not published anything on the specifically subject of race equality.
Veronika is right and racial equality is absolutely an important subject so I am so happy to have her share a guest post with us today on the subject of raising kids in a race conscious world. Talking to our children about what is going on in the world is important to helping them understand and process the things they see and hear about.
Tips For Raising Kids in a RACE Conscious World
By Veronika Obeng
-Everyone loves a good DIY tip. How about DIY Social Improvement? By Parents, FOR OUR CHILDREN.
Race relations are an issue we must face. All of the above concepts and issues literally swirl around us everyday as Americans. We turn on the news and we encounter it. We all feel it -whether you are white and feel you are not racist, whether you are black and you feel have been profiled, whether or not you wish to hear it, to be a part of it or want to ignore it altogether. Now factor in a complex element, you are a parent.
As parents it is one of our prime directives to educate and guide our children. As parents we shield our children from the worst of society and work to give them a hopeful outlook on the world. We can not however as parents raise our children to be socially unaware of the world they live in or impotent to handle complex issues they will most assuredly face. Race relations in America is one of those issues. Donald Trump wants to build a wall, cities like Baltimore and Charleston headline major newscasts because of tense protest, social media is a buzz with images of black men being killed, and even companies like Ben and Jerry’s are weighing in with opinions. How can a socially conscious parents raise a child who is educated and comfortable dealing with the social complexities of race?
How To Teach Racial Equality To Children
No matter your ethnic or racial background talking to your children at an early age will help them be at ease having dialogues about issues that even adults can struggle with. Starting a conversation is easy. Ask your child what they know about race relations, or stories that may be playing on the evening news. Then, just listen. It will probably be harder for parents than children to have these conversations. Odds are your child has his/her own set of beliefs as to what is going on and what should be done, and then start to guide and navigate them through the process.
Our children are of a different generation. They have witnessed a minority president in their youth. For kids this can simply be relegated to a fact rather than historically significance. Kids at very young ages have devices and access to Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and more. I can promise you it is very real that they are being exposed to more social issues than you realize. Social media is in fact the hot bed for social activism, grass root movements, and a general platform for celebrities and common folk alike to voice their views on various social topics-ESPECIALLY race based issues in America. Anything can go “viral” these days and more and more these post are about complex social interactions between people of different races. How are you addressing this exposure?
Exposure to something is typically bad. If your child is exposed to the flu, it’s bad. If your child is exposed to drug usage, it’s bad. If your child is exposed to graphic television images, it’s bad. I’m not so sure being exposed to #BlacklivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, and #BlueLivesMatter arguments is bad. When having dialogues and teaching our children, then and only then does a new generation relegate significant change to common place. Parents of the 60’s tended to be very aware of racial issues due to the height of the Civil Right Movement. We talked about racial equality. This, only to produce a generation of children that found it common place to attend school together and enjoy friends of all different backgrounds. Social change happens when we all do a small part and a large part of the small part is just acknowledgement of the issues.
Agreeing to Disagree is Necessary
Think #BlackLivesMatter is a crock and a divisive movement? That’s fine. Personally I feel that police brutality is an issue that plagues minority communities and something has to be done. Great. Think Trump is the guy for the job and his views on immigrants and minorities is inline with your views? That is your right. As a parent however, you are not a Democrat, a Republican, a protester, or a HR employee strapped in by the PC police. Love is what guides you. Simple truths. Humans are all equal, but humans are flawed. Hear your children out. Then tell them enough of the truth that they grow into adults who help fix problems and make the world a better place. Respecting others view point is something children are good at. Bobby has on a blue shirt, but I don’t like blue. It’s ok, Bobby is still my friend. Let’s talk about how various racial groups may feel and understand why others may feel that way. Teach empathy vs apathy. Ignorance of social issues will only cripple children as they will undoubtedly encounter these issues one way or the other. Don’t let them be blindsided.
Every parent no matter the racial or socio-economic background needs to help our child have a diverse upbringing. Get out and befriend families of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Learn about one another. Most importantly, give your children a world where having a Jewish friend, Indian friends, Mexican friends and a Muslim friend is completely normal. Coupled with honest conversation, communication and loving guidance from parents that want the world to be a better place when our children inherit the world- we can accomplish just that, making the world a better place. Nothing should be as important as productive progress and having a safer, happier America for our children.
What are some of the conversations you are having/had with your children about race equality or being less race conscious? Comment below.
Thanks again to Veronika for sharing these tips on how to talk to kids about racial equality. We can all do our part to make this a less race conscious world where we are all treated equally. You can read more of her work at VeronikaObeng.com
#RACIALEQUALITY #BLACKLIVESMATTER #ENDRACISM