View Full Version : Kids and Racism

03-31-2010, 10:37 AM
Ok, my 7-year old is really interested in what color people's skin is. Whe I told him a new sitter was coming last Sunday night, his first question was, "What color is her skin?" He has also said that he doesn't like sitting next to people that have darker skin than he does.

I have told him that attitude is unacceptable in our home, and that it's hurtful to others. He's in special ed, so he should be a bit more understanding of things people can't control. He's had African-American and Latino kids in his class, and we have AA and Asian people at our church, so it's not like he's never been exposed to people different than himself.

How can I handle this? I'm examining my own actions and motives to see if I might be racist and not know it. DH doesn't act racist, so where is this coming from??

03-31-2010, 11:25 AM
Laura, this is not an easy one for sure! Every child comes with this question in some form or another or has an opinion they may have heard from someone else...

My son came to me when he was about 6 and asked my why everyone was not white like he was and said he didn't other colors of people and why did we have them! Shocked the daylights out me as there has never been a color issue in our home...

I had to think about that one a long time and there will be no answer that will be the same for every child, but for Eric...We had gone over and over the story of Noah and the Ark the Promise of the Rainbow, Gods word he would not flood us again, so Rainbow's were very special to us...

I told him God had two Rainbow's...One of bright colors to remind us of his promise and the other Rainbow was the color of His people...Eric didn't say anything but a few weeks later he said, Momma you're right, there are no white, blacks or browns in the Rainbow, so God did good and made up for it in us!

That was enough for me and will be the same thing I tell my Grandson if he ever asks...

03-31-2010, 01:46 PM
Great story Kare.

Laura my DS also has Autism and the one thing I have learned from being a Special Education teacher and having a son with Autism is that there really is not always a cause for the questions they ask. To him it might seem that people of different races respond to him differently and therefore he has chosen this way to respond.
As a teacher when the subject came up I always told my students and for that fact my son that under our skin we are all exactly the same. And that even in a racial group there are all different shades. This works really great if someone that they really care about is slightly lighter or darker. I always had the children put their hands together and compare all the different shades that people come in. In my own family my parents, one brother, and my dear sister were all dark hairded and darker complected. My other brother and I are fair. Makes for an interesting discussion on heredity because in my family all the darker ones had or have dementia and the lighter ones don't.

03-31-2010, 10:12 PM
This is a tough one for kids... I agree that maybe it was a kid (or kids) with darker skin that have maybe teased him or harassed him? I think if it were me, I'd ask him (in an off hand way) why he feels like he doesn't like darker skinned people... you may be surprised by how honest his answer is.

My oldest daughter was about 5... we were in the grocery store and a black woman walked up near us... I had not realized (until I saw the look on my daughter's face) that she had never seen anyone who wasn't white.... (VERY small town).

Luckily for me, the lady was about my age and was EXTREMELY understanding of this little white kid staring her up and down. LOL... After a couple of minutes of very embarrassing staring, my daughter looked at me, and in almost tears says, "Mommy! WHAT! happened to HER?" She obviously thought the woman had had some kind of accident or tragedy and was "hurt".

I was mortified!!!! I didn't know what to say, so the first thing that popped in my head came out my mouth... I told her that there was nothing wrong with her. That she was just black and aside from that, she was exactly like us.

The lady was SO nice... she came over and squatted down by my daughter and held her hand out. She talked to her and smiled and was just SO gracious... I was so relieved that she was not offended...

Before it was over, my daughter was hugging her. LOL... And, that was that... my daughter learned that everyone is the same... just different colors. She never brought it up again and just accepted that it wasn't important.

04-08-2010, 03:18 AM
I think this is normal with any child. Race, gender, etc. Kids are very curious of things, especially when they are different than they are.

When my son, Brandon, was about 3, we were at the grocery store and this man who was very black.....darker than most, Brandon just stared at him. I too, was a bit embarrassed. But, the guy was ok with it too.

I think for the most part, people who has common sense will know kids are curious and will stare or say something embarrasing....it is more how the parent reacts. As long as we don't act racist, I think the person would just laugh it off.

Has this come up in his class? I know kids talk a lot among themselves....they have very interesting conversations with each other....I think we would just want to die if we knew of the conversations they have.

If you have a good relationship with the teacher, you can ask her/him as well.

I would just play it down and just explain differences and not make a big deal about it, unless it becomes a bigger issue.

04-08-2010, 08:46 AM
Well, when I talked with him one day, he mentioned that he didn't like sitting by Adrianna in class last year. Adrianna cried a lot for her Mom, and that would make anyone not want to sit by her, not because she's African American.

A friend at church told me that a little AA girl came to sit by one of Sean's friends Easter Sunday, and instead of sitting next to her, he got up and went all the way around the other side of the pew. I don't know if it was because she sat by his "girlfriend," or because of her color. I've talked with his counselor about it and her response is to let him know that kind of attitude isn't acceptable in our house, which it isn't. She also informed me that there are active chapters of the KKK in Southern Illinois. :eek:

04-10-2010, 04:17 AM
I think I would be checking into your son's friends backgrounds a bit. Because if there is racism going on in their home, you don't want them to influence your son.

If the family is teaching racism.....such as the KKK, that is really sad

04-10-2010, 07:36 AM
Karen, the funny thing is that most of his friends are special needs like him, so I guess this is the parent's way of feeling superior. He hasn't spent a lot of time with his friends on his own (hovering mama I am), so I don't know exactly where it started.

04-10-2010, 07:51 AM
I was reading somewhere else yesterday and they were talking about black history month. Did this just come up with him since Feb. maybe? I know they focus on Black History month and just wondered if it was just then that he even noticed a difference and that made him start asking questions. He could have interpeted what someone said kind of different that what was meant.

04-10-2010, 07:25 PM
Cyndi, that can be an idea how it started.