Don’t Keep Them in the Dark
Why are we so bad at talking to kids about skin tone and race? As a society, we’re just not good at it, right?
A white grandmother told me when her grandchildren asked why…she told them that God baked us all in the oven and left black people in too long. She was so proud of herself…
And generally when children flat out ask questions about skin tone or race, we relegate to abstractions like “We are all equal” “We treat everyone the same” “We only see people, we don’t see skin color.”
Children do see skin color!
But, we live in a hyper-racialized society where systems and cultural norms have been established based on skin tone and race categories and continue to have a huge impact on our lives.
Children, being the sponges that they are, are soaking in the messages of our hyper- racialized society which consistently place whites at the top of the racial hierarchy and devalues everyone else.
Avoiding conversations about skin tone and race is not protecting our children from the hyper-racialized society they will inherit. Instead, our silence is allowing them to be socialized and conditioned by it. In other words, they’ll perpetuate the racial status quo.
But when it comes to R-A-C-E. Dirty 4 letter word, we lose our footing, we go SILENT or we CHOKE….and some of us go with the colorblind approach, as if the best way to prepare our children to overcome the racially unjust society in which they are being socialized is to pretend that it is not happening. This approach, the colorblind. approach robs us of language, power and a framework to actually create through our children the just society that we desire.
What if stopped undermining their potential with anecdotes, silence and color-shaming and started equipping our children to be the substance of the society we long for.
If we want racially diverse communities where we don’t attach bias to skin tone, and where race does not matter, then we have to get good at educating and engaging our children.
Let our children be the substance of a relentless hope.
If we don’t keep them in the dark, our children will light up the world!
Lucretia Berry is the founder of Brownicity: The Art & Beauty of Living & Loving Beyond Race (brownicity.com), a family-focused, grass roots initiative dedicated to advocacy, education and support for racial healing and antiracism. She is a wife to Nathan, mother of three little girls, and former college professor who is passionate about helping people overcome boundaries through spiritual and social consciousness. Lucretia authored, What LIES Between Us: Fostering First Steps Towards Racial Healing Journal & Guide, designed specifically for ‘beginners’ to race conversations. The work she has done through her What LIES Between US classes and the ‘fun-shops’ she designed to help adults navigate skin tone and race conversations with children has earned Lucretia the reputation of being a ‘life-giving’ and ‘grace-filled’ facilitator.
Lucretia earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, and MA in English from Iowa State University, and her BA from South Carolina State University.