Will my child experience racism? – It’s not an easy question to answer. But if we’re being honest and you have white children and come from a white family, you probably haven’t given the question a thought. And that’s because, in a predominantly white society we assume racism only affects people of certain ethnic origins – basically anyone who is not white. Yet the very definition of racism in its simplest form suggests a prejudice against any race. So why when we think of racism do we discount white people?

Well, without detracting too far from the post title. To answer that question we have to look back to our ancestor’s. Throughout history a picture of where racism comes from is clear; One ethnic group holding power over other groups. Thus creating beliefs & structures that continue to grow routes to this day. Historically, white people are who held the power. And, by continuing to benefit from the privileges of our white ancestors, we unknowingly allow racism to continue to be a prominent part of today’s society.

Racism today

Photo of a group of people from different races
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

Nowadays, there seems to be a belief that racism no longer exists. Or, it only exists because Black, Asian and other ethnic groups can’t let go of the past and carry around the racial prejudices their ancestors faced. Yep, people really do think this. Have you ever heard phrases like, “It’s about time ‘they’ moved on”, “You can’t say anything these days” or “I’m old school, i don’t mean anything by it”? These phrases are all banded around regularly.

But in truth, racism does still exist. The very fact these phrases are used means racism still exists. It also exists when an employer decides to promote the white employee over the Asian employee even though the Asian employee is more qualified. It exists when a black man is being watched by the shop staff while shopping because he’s believed to be more likely to shoplift over a white man. It exists because black people are 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people.

So while society continues to be blind, or let’s be honest – ignorant, to these systematic decisions, white privilege will continue to exist and add fuel to the fire.

Back to the point at hand – Will my child experience racism?

You might be wondering what the point of this post is. Well, to look at my pale-skinned, red-headed child you assume she wouldn’t directly experience racism. And you would be wrong for two reasons:-

– The first – What you don’t know is that although her Granny is white, her Grandpa is Indian, therefore her dad is half Indian. So although she may not be the subject of racism directly due to the colour of her skin, she will feel the negative effects of racial comments & racial bias’s as if it was aimed at her directly. Why? Because she will know how her dad and Grandpa would feel about it, which will hurt her greatly. I know this because it hurts me just the same.

– The second reason – Even if she came from two white parents, she will still experience racism. That’s because we all do. Racism doesn’t just affect adults & children of ‘ethnic minority groups’ (a term which really does not sit right with me). It affects everyone. It doesn’t matter what your skin colour is or where you’re from. You might not even realise it when you do but you will experience racism in some way at some point. I may not have been the subject of racism but growing up i definitely saw it around me. From the actions taken by some and words or phrases used by many.

How I learned tabout racism.

I am the first to admit, i spent more than half my life being ignorant of racism. I grew up on a council estate, in a rough area. I took on the opinions of the people around me as if they were my own. All despite thinking i was one of few people around me who had a mind of my own. But I was a child who really didn’t know any better. I wasn’t taught any differently.

Once I met my partner and his family, my world completely opened up. I’ve learned so much over the years. Not just about racism but also about the privileges I automatically have for being white. And I’m so glad i did.

I’ve gained family members from different backgrounds and cultures from my own which means I get to take the best parts of each one and raise my child with them.

The way i see it – if I, a white woman with a mixed-race partner, having gained an Indian father in law & aunties, uncles, cousins, nieces & nephews. Only really having had my eyes open to the world of different cultures in the last fourteen years, can take a racist comment as a hurtful personal blow – then I can only imagine how my own extended family members have felt their whole lives.

boy with red heart cut out
Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

Education starts at home

If we are disturbed by the fact that racism really does still exist, in this day and age, then we have a responsibility to educate our kids, the future generation about it so that they don’t pass on the same prejudices that were handed down to us. We need to teach them, not only about diversity and individual cultures, but also white privilege. About the challenges people face because of the colour of their skin.

White privilege is one of the leading causes of racism. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying because you’re white you must have chosen to accept or take those privileges, that’s not the case at all. But it is something that is there regardless of whether you want it or not. It’s part of the system. The only way to change this is to challenge it and to educate our kids so that over time they can carry the same challenging mantel. Only then will we see a change.

Kids will learn about race at some point, right? Is it not better their education is structured and well informed and not picked up from what they see on social media or hear from friends? If we, as parents, don’t step in and educate, first ourselves & then our kids, we are at risk of raising them with predetermined prejudices and the cycle will start all over again with the next generation.

How can we educate our kids?

Educating our kids about racism & racial diversity is key to changing how we move forward as a society. Although the conversations may not be easy, there is a wealth of information and tools online to help us start those conversations. Here are just a few you could check out for advice on where to start –

survivorsnetwork.org.uk

BBC – How to talk to your children about Race & Racism
Parent Toolkit – How to talk to kids about Race & Racism

But what we first need to do is educate ourselves. If our beliefs or behaviours don’t align with what we are trying to teach, how can we expect our kids to see any value in it?

Do you teach your kids about Racism? Have you experienced Racism? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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