The beloved children’s show, Sesame Street, had a special with CNN about talking to kids about race. It was a great way to introduce the discussion about race to children. Chloé is only three and when I ask her who she sees on screen, she just sees other kids! Children are not born racist, it is taught. It is important for me to teach my children about race from an early age.
I grew up in an Indo-Caribbean home in Miami. My parents never taught us to hate or judge anyone, regardless of what they may have been exposed to when they were growing up in their homes of Guyana and Trinidad. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely dealt with other issues. However, we were taught to treat everyone with respect. As a young child, I was blessed to be exposed to people of different races and cultures. My parents’ families did not live close by. Our community became our family which spanned many different races and cultures. All of them were “Aunty” and “Uncle” to us. I walked home from elementary with my white and black neighbors and we all played together on our cul de sac. As I got older, my school friends became even more diverse and all were welcomed in our home. I was constantly learning about race and cultures through my various interactions with my friends.
In the same way now, I surround my children around my vast array of friendships with people of all different races. They don’t have to turn on the TV to see someone different because they have seen them in their own home. My group of friends have always been very diverse and I never shied away from making friends with people that were different from me. It’s important to expand your mind as well as your circle. I grew up traveling. My father chose our vacations based on which culture he wanted us to learn about. He never took us to beach resorts. He wanted us to walk around the local neighborhoods and see the people there. I’m so grateful for his open mindedness and I want the same for my children. I hope to create these same experiences in the future to teach my children about race and cultures.
Books and school will expose your children but it is important to speak to them at home about race. I want my girls to know about the different cultures their parents are from and to understand how differences are loved. There is so much they are going to have to experience and learn about on their own but the more I open their eyes now, the more they will understand the world and how they can help it making it a better place for everyone. It is good for them to understand differences in people and respect those differences. It is our differences that make each of us special.
Thank you for reading,