What to Do When Your Children Come Face-to-Face with Racism
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Victorio opened up and shared how it made him feel. “Why does it matter if we are a different color?” he asked. “What matters is that we have a good heart, right Mami?” He took what I have always said—“You can tell how good a person’s heart is by how they treat you”—and he applied it. He went on to say, “That’s not having a good heart if you worry about the color of someone. We should worry about their insides more than their outsides.” My lessons had really sunk in and he got it.
This experience led to a great discussion about accepting others for who they are. I thought, “How can I help as a parent?” But, as it turned out, I already had. Victorio handled himself appropriately. Was he upset? Sure. But he knew that the little boy had not been shown how to accept people for who they are regardless of the color of their skin. Is my job over? No way. I am sure we have a ways to go, but as parents we have to continue the discussion about accepting others for who they are inside. We need to teach that outer appearance has nothing to do with the person and the goodness in his or her heart.
Racism still continues and has happened to us on the playground as well. My boys didn’t hear it, but I sure did. In response, I removed my boys from the situation and I tried to be the better person. I now know why my dad didn’t make a big deal about the racism my sister and I experienced on our bikes that day. What would it do if I had acknowledged it? Probably breed more hatred and racism, everything we are trying to abolish. What good would I be serving? None. So my best advice to parents is to instill a love for humanity in your children, and slowly but surely it will become contagious. Little by little, racism will diminish. It all begins with us, the parents. Let’s break the cycle and spread the love of all. That’s what I hope to do, because in the simplest way that’s what my parents taught me.