Reflecting on Race
Barack Obama's election as the first black president of
the United States emphasized the country's ability to
overcome deeply embedded racism ... but
also brought out the very worst in grown-ups and kids who
were outraged at the historic outcome.
Before the election and in the weeks after Nov. 4, hundreds of
hate crimes cropped up nationwide as racism reared its ugly head.
That the United States - the great "melting pot" of the
world - saw a racially motivated backlash wasn't necessarily a
surprise but it was often shocking. Obama likenesses hung by nooses
from trees. Spray-painted racial slurs surfaced near college
campuses. And Obama has the distinction of receiving more death
threats than any other president-elect in history (he gave his
acceptance speech and took the stage with his family standing
behind a wall of bulletproof glass).
The reality of a black president has riled white supremacists
and those who've been raised in generation after generation of
bigotry. As kids around the country keep a close eye on their
parents' attitudes about the election and our new president,
the stage is being delicately set for how children will view other
people who are different from them.
What to Watch:
Talking to kids about discrimination and the importance of
embracing diversity (in appearances, cultures, races, ethnicities,
opinions, etc.) is more important now than ever. Without the right
perspective, kids - especially the younger set - may distrust
someone based solely on how they look. Moms and dads must step up
and help their children value diversity, regardless of which
candidate they chose on Election Day. We need to provide guidance
and education about the wonderfully diverse world we live in,
especially for kids growing up in isolated communities with fewer
minorities, and emphasize that it's not only OK that we're
all different - but that acceptance of differences in beliefs and
cultural heritage is one of the principles on which this
country was founded. Parents should be mindful of cultural
stereotypes they may have learned and make an effort to correct
them, and demonstrate an attitude of respect for others. Remember,
kids are always listening, so it's important to be aware of how
we speak about people who are different from us.
This dawn of a new era can and should be an opportunity for
teaching kids, from toddlers to teens, how to respect and learn
from others, value differences, bridge cultural gaps, reject unfair
stereotypes, discover common ground, create new bonds, and accept
people for who they are and what they can offer.
How to Talk to Your Child About the News
Talking Politics: What to Say to Your Kids
Teaching Your Child Tolerance
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Issues to Watch
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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