Talking About Kids and Racism: My First Visit to the Madeleine Brand Show

"How come you haven't posted that link with you on the Madeleine Brand Show on your blog yet?"

That's the question one of my good friends asked me last night when she popped over here and didn't see anything about my first guest appearance on the show, which happens to be one of the best on the radio here in Southern California. The segment aired on Monday and if you click on the link, you'll hear me share some of the racist incidents my two sons, 10-year-old Mr. O and 7-year-old Mr. T, have endured over the years, and how I've dealt with them as a parent.

"Um, er..." I told my friend. "Because I haven't listened to it yet!"

Lame, right? But, like many people, I don't exactly enjoy listening to interviews with me. I do that typical, "Ugh, is that what my voice sounds like?" and I think endlessly about what I should have said. Besides, I take comfort in knowing that Johnny Depp famously doesn't watch his own movies. Because, you know, we're so similar to each other.

So why am I sharing the link to the conversation? I had a moment last night where I observed my sons consulting about whose turn it was to play video games, and I got to thinking about how special they are.

Sure, I'm their mom, so I'm inclined to think they're special, but other people frequently tell me that they are different from most other kids they meet--and they always want to know what I've done to them to get them to be who they are.

The truth is, it's not just me and my husband's magic parenting dust. We've worked hard to instill in our boys a deep sense of their inherent nobility, and their responsibility to be advocates for and work tirelessly for racial unity. They know that racism is the most challenging issue facing this country--they've experienced it in their neighborhood and school communities, and if they're around when we're watching the news, they can see how it has permeated and sickened every aspect of our society.

I don't want my sons to become consumed by anger and bitterness--mentally, emotionally and spiritually stunted, because of the toll being impacted by racism year after year takes on a person. And I sure don't want them to become perpetrators of racist attitudes and behaviors, no matter how subtle they may be.

I also know I'm not the only parent who feels this way--and that's why I was excited to talk to Madeleine about the subject in the first place. We need more honest conversation about racism, and how we can be deliberate in our efforts to combat its influence, and create models of racial unity in our homes. I don't have all the answers, but I hope my experiences help other people thinking through these issues.


nick said…
From what you've said over the years, I'm sure you're right that you've done your best to instill a positive outlook in your kids so they'll get the most out of life and not be dragged down by racist attitudes. I'm sure some of these racists love to see black people cowed and intimidated by their open hostility.
Carlea said…
Thank you for this.

I'm the white mom of a two year old black girl. I was talking about this issue with a black colleague the other day - asking her how her family discussed race and racism with her when she was young. I really appreciate real-world examples that my husband (also white) and I can use to develop our own dialog with her.

Love your blog. And I think your voice is adorable.
adoptive mommy said…
Love your blog! I agree that is is necessary to discuss racism even with young children. Racism is a factor for my daughter and she is just a baby. Thank you for sharing your experiences and helping others to open dialogues that are not comfortable but very necessary in our world.
Found your blog through Claudia Hall Christian's #FF. Congratulations on your 7th Blogiversary - I'm in my 5th year and loving every minute of it.

I take comfort in knowing that Johnny Depp famously doesn't watch his own movies. Because, you know, we're so similar to each other.


Popular Posts