Race Discrimination: “Is It My Fault?”

My son attends a very nice daycare to pre-k school in Brooklyn. He is white (of Italian/WASP/Armenian descent) and most of his schoolmates are black, as are all the teachers. One day as we were walking home from school, my son said, “White people treated black people very bad in this country. Is that my fault?”

This was during Black History Month, so I figured they must have been talking about slavery. I explained that, yes, black people were treated very badly, but that many people, including white people, had fought against slavery in the Civil War. I told him he was not to blame for racism, but that it was his, and all peoples, duty to fight against it and other kinds of injustice whenever we saw it happening.

Thanks to Carla, a 48-year-old communist and mother of 2, for this story.

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  • Aprilkinkead

    Very well said! I had a similar conversation with my son when he was young. Now we talk about his growing responsibility to fight injustice – including racial injustice.

  • http://twitter.com/OnlyLaila Laila

     The tweet should have read “how do you teach young White kids about racial discrimination” not just about race. Talking about race in itself shouldn’t induce guilt, it should be about creating community. I have a 4yo old and we talk about skin tones and history all the time. I don’t want him to learn in a classroom that he is “Black”. He should hear about it from me and be allowed to process it in a safe space. 

  • Smansage

     I think its also important for kids to know that the majority of whites did nothing (while emphasizing the few white anti-racist activists i.e John Brown).  I also think the majority of whites are doing nothing now to fight against racism.  It is great that your talking to your kid about racism–many white parents seem to be afraid to do this with their children.  

    • Smansage

       There are a few great books to start a great conversation on race, discrimination.  Bell Hooks wrote:  Skin Again  and Julias Lester:  Let’s Tall About Race