Raising Black Children to Be Color Blind?
Do you teach your children to be colorblind? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. left a legacy of equal civil rights for all and the dream that America would be able to one day look beyond race. Perhaps your family, like mine, discussed the recent case in the news involving Jordan Davis. The death of Jordan Davis leads my family to a question we think about often: Should we prepare our children for potential dangers of racism? While we don’t live in a world (thank God) where lynchings are as common as going to the movies, researchers argue that racism is still alive, but tricky to spot as today it is subtle. That is not to say racism is no longer overt. Take for instance the recent school in California that almost got away with having a Black History month lunch, complete with fried chicken, watermelon and cornbread or students at a Queens elementary school banned from writing about Malcolm X. Events like the ‘Black History Month lunch’ let us know that it is not yet time to tell our children to be colorblind. When they leave our home they will not face a color blind society, only one bombarded by stereotypical images of people of color. In our family colorblind is a nice goal, but one yet to be achieved. Our family believes that making our children aware of the past will give them insight as to why Black people find such things like the Black History lunch offensive and where such stereotypes come from. Covering bad times in Black History doesn’t mean we omit the good stuff. We also teach our children about the legacy of Blacks and make an effort to point out men and women who have accomplished much. Their textbooks in school don’t make them privy to this information. So while we don’t full out make a PowerPoint presentation to fill in the blanks of textbooks, we make our children listen to family stories about the past, make a conscious effort to choose books and TV programs with positive images of people of color, and have conversations about race issues in the news. Mostly, we do all of this in case our children come contact with a potential gut wrenching racist blow, subtle or not, and we don’t think a colorblind approach can prepare them for that.