Several years ago, I wrote a quick post highlighting some of the problems that can happen when parents fail to talk about race and race relations with their kids. The post used research from a book called NutureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman and a Wired article by Jonathan Liu. In their book, Bronson and Merryman disprove many of our assumptions about how kids grow up thinking about race and race relations.
One of the the first statements that they make in a chapter concerning race:
It is tempting to believe that because their generation is so diverse, today’s children grow up knowing how to get along with people of every race. But numerous studies suggest that this is more of a fantasy than a fact.
According to Liu and the NutureShock research, here’s how to go about raising racist kids:
Step One: Don’t talk about race. Don’t point out skin color. Be “color blind.”
Step Two: Actually, that’s it. There is no Step Two.
Congratulations! Your children are well on their way to believing that <insert your own ethnicity here> is better than everybody else.
The chapter’s basic premise?
Many families (especially white families – the authors claim 75%) don’t talk about race in appropriate ways. When those conversations don’t happen, kids unknowingly grow up racist while denying that fact by claiming that they “don’t see color.”
It’s an interesting argument that seems to make a lot of sense.
So . . . we need to do a better job of discussing race and white privilege and opportunities and immigration and all sorts of stuff that makes us uncomfortable. Because it makes us better people and makes where we live better places.
But because talking about race and issues like Ferguson makes us uncomfortable, we will often not work very hard to make it happen in our classrooms. But there is lots of stuff out there to help specifically with the Ferguson issue.
Because we can’t not talk about it.