Raising Children of Color: That’s the Way Things Are Done
My husband and I raise our children much in the same way that we grew up. We expect the children to offer a yes ma’am or no sir to an adult’s question. When we go to church we have to wear our Sunday Best. There is prayer before meals and most definitely no make-up before sixteen. There is no scientific evidence to support such rules positively influencing child rearing. But that’s the way we know how to do it. If the children ever ask why, my answer? That’s just the way things are done. Our rules do have a purpose. Alongside a great education we feel our children also need to learn respect for authority and themselves in order to get ahead in life. In addition to respect and knowledge there are other rules we learned growing up that we teach our children. We explain to them that although they go to school with other white children, the old adage is still true, “they've got to work twice as hard to get ahead’. At an early age we explain to them that subconsciously there will be people who, based off of the fact that they are African American, will have low expectations for them. People seem more willing to admit a still rampant run on discrimination of girls. But admitting discrimination of children of color is often met with ‘don’t we have a Black president?’ Unfortunately, everyone in the nation isn’t just peachy with the idea of a Black president. Recent racist rants in the news with Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling confirm our family’s belief that the days of preparing our children for a possible stinging racist experience (or two…) are not over. The Trayvon Martin case and so many others like it have prompted discussions of preparing Black boys for proper police interaction etiquette. But what about proper school interaction etiquette? Should we assume that racism evaporates when my children sit behind a desk? We don’t think so. We can’t conduct racist drills to prepare our children for every possible racial discriminatory situation that may arise. As racism today is more subtle, most times you don’t even see it happening to you. So preparing our children for racism in school for the 21st century includes (but not limited to):
- telling our son things like not to get too close or ‘accidentally play’ and push any girls, white girls especially.
- Telling all of our children that Ebonics is okay at home, but Standard English is expected at school.
- Letting our oldest daughter know that she will meet teachers who will praise her for getting a ‘C’ and surprised when she earns and ‘A’.
- Letting our oldest know that lack of intelligence is the not the reason many of her friends are not in honors/advanced/gifted and talented classes.