Living With Winston

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When a Child Says a Racist Comment (Without Knowing)

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Something that happened this morning made me want to write this blog post. I was walking my children to school, and we were having a lovely chat about my 4-year-old daughter’s BFFs.

She went through the names of a few children, then said, “I don’t like [child’s name] anymore.” I then asked her why that was, and her reply shocked me. She said, “Because she’s got different colour skin.”

I was very quick to tell her that’s not a nice reason not to like someone, but what else do I need to say? We’re a pretty modern family – my husband and I were born in the 80’s, so not quite millennials, but extremely accepting of all races and cultures different to ours; FYI, we’re a white British family. Even typing that sounds patronising – I’ll put it this way – race, for us, is a non-issue. It doesn’t even warrant comment, because we don’t see anyone as ‘different’.

So why did my daughter say that?

I can only think it’s come from an outside influence, most likely at school. Somewhere along the line, my four year old has heard some sort of racist comment or attitude, and has remembered it enough to use it as a reason not to like someone. In 2019, I am very disappointed that these views still exist a) in my village (therefore influencing the children of the village), and b) at all in the UK.

After school today, I’m going to ask her again whether she likes the child she named, and again ask her why. Then we’ll have a discussion about it. She may have forgotten all about this morning, and if that’s the case, I’ll drop the issue.

I have had the ‘race chat’ with my six year old son, and he was shocked and appalled that some people don’t like others just because of the colour of their skin. He thought that it was ridiculous, and couldn’t believe race could be the sole reason to not like someone. It was refreshing for me that he completely looks past colour, and doesn’t view anyone as ‘different’ or inferior because of it. It means we’re doing parenting right. So, if it comes to it, I’ll have the same discussion with my daughter.

Let me know your views about this issue. Have your children ever made comments on race without realising the weight behind them?

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1 Comment

  1. I can remember when I was teaching, a child referring to another child as ‘a chocolate boy’ I know the child did not mean it as a racist remark, in fact it was probably quite a compliment as kids love chocolate, but nonetheless we had to take it really serious and discuss why it wasn’t appropriate etc. I think it can be very tricky for children but its a perfect opportunity for conversation and enlightenment when these moments happen.

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