Let us be clear from the get-go, racism is a learnt behaviour.
We have all seen film footage of white supremacist families who proudly present their babies, toddlers and kids adorned in swastikas and racist symbolism. The children hold banners and spout rhetoric of which they have no real knowledge or experience, but if they know no better it can only be the parents to blame.
The chances are that if you are reading this you are a new mom and/or mom to very small children.
You may even be thinking “I don’t really see how this blog actually affects me, I’m not racist and the kids are too young to have any opinions”, the reality is that if this world is ever going to be the place we are proud to leave as a legacy the issue of racism should be confronted as early as possible.
There is no escaping the events of the past couple of weeks, and even if you weren’t aware of it children as young as two or three can absorb some of the information they see on TV or hear on the radio. They may not be able to process it but there will be triggers that will linger in their little memories. More than anything, we must banish the fear and mystery and embrace the humanity within us all.
The first time you take them to the playground, the first day of nursery or the first birthday party they attend will no doubt include little ones of a different race or creed or colour and this is a wonderful thing. Make a point of organising playdates with their moms. Children play with children not an ethnicity.
When you read them stories from picture books seek out the stories that are built around racial and cultural differences, there is nothing like acceptance and fun to diminish any fear of difference. By the way I am in no way suggesting that you stop reading the Hungry Caterpillar or Dr Seuss, but just as I am advocating … mix it up a little. The same goes for videos and TV. Nothing wrong with Frozen, but Moana is equally great, and Aladdin has a beautiful brown princess – not forgetting a blue genie – I am sure you get my point?
And if the moment comes when your little one asks why there are people of different colours, it’s easy enough to explain that just like their favourite animals, pussycats, doggies and even bears come in all sorts of colours and most of the time they all get on great. Human beings are just slightly smarter animals and human beings come in all sorts of colours too.