My wife and I finally decided it was time to have a sit-down discussion with our 9 year-old son and 8 year-old daughter about racism. I know there are some out there who would say we have waited to long to broach this subject since kids are ultra perceptive these days and also ultra-honest with each other when it comes to pointing out differences and opinions. But we have hesitated to step into these waters not because we were naive but because we know that the moment you tell a kid that there are people who dislike, even hate, them simply for no other reason than the color of their skin or their ethnic make-up, all innocence about what humans can do to another human is lost forever. So maybe we were just trying to let them hold onto their innocence a while longer. And yet we realized that the longer we waited the more likely they would hear some racial stupidity from someone else and then be unprepared in their response or emotion.
But nevertheless this is a difficult moment for a parent, particularly a parent, of any ethnicity, who strives to point out the good in all people and who attempts to demonstrate that ethnic and color differences are meaningless when it comes to evaluating a person’s worth. Some people hate and dislike other people for no real reason. It is too easy to simply try to explain that as stupidity on those people’s part. Especially when you also have to make it clear that the stupidity and ignorance of those people can affect their lives. That explanation does not suffice.
With no clear answers on how to explain it, nonetheless we began what will, I am sure, be a life-long ongoing discussion. And I must say how pleasantly surprised we were at our kids’ responses. They did see those views as other people’s hang-ups. And they also knew that the world was better than people like that choose to see it. My wife and I were amazed and proud.
And once again we were reminded that this generation of children, especially those from bi-ethnic backgrounds, bring a whole different perspective to these problems. While we intend to teach them a thing or two about “racial” tolerance and intolerance, they are already teaching us a thing or two. I can’t help but believe the future will be much brighter because of these kids.