It has been an unusual week globally with #blacklivesmatter movement in the United States which has spread around the world very quickly.
I have thought about this in the context of our children at VAS. Do any / many of our children have racist beliefs? Certainly, we have dealt with very few incidents where there were racist things said. We have used the restorative approach and to date, the children we used this approach on have not made further racist comments.
I know that in New Zealand there has been publicity around casual racism, the stereotyping of different ethnicities. We are asked to not laugh at the racist jokes or agree with the racial stereotyping. Given our children model their behaviour on the adults around them, it is important to think about what we say.
So how can we teach our children to understand that skin colour is no indicator of a person’s character? I don’t believe that trying to get our children to understand that we are all the same and to ignore the differences is particularly helpful, because after all, it is patently obvious that we are all different in appearance. It is ok to notice and acknowledge that we look different to each other. What is not ok, is to deride, belittle, bully people because they look different.
I found these great pieces of advice for adults:
Olsen Edwards says parents need to send a very clear message, beginning in infancy: Skin color doesn’t make a bit of difference to the kind of person that you are. Tell kids, “There are good, kind people who are dark and who are white, and mean people who are white and who are black.”
Tell older kids, “We are all members of one race: the human race. But racial identity is absolutely real, and everybody has a racial identity.” Talk about how skin color doesn’t make a bit of difference to the kind of person you are. Tell them, “Sometimes people get treated badly because of the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes. In our family, we believe that is wrong.”
The last quote, which is significant as children move into the workforce:
Egalitarian people tend to have more successful careers. “In classroom settings and workplaces, if you’re going to be in any kind of diverse environment, if you can help people see their commonalities rather than their differences, they are going to perform a lot better,” he says. “If you are raising kids who are going to be part of a diverse workforce, it’s really important for their economic security to be able to work with people who are different. They’re 21st century kids, and they are, by default, global citizens. Your kids are going to be working in teams with people from Dubai. They have to be culturally competent. If not, they are actually going to be at a deficit.”
Are We Born Racist? The Talk You Must Have With Your Children https://www.parentmap.com/article/are-we-born-racist-the-talk-you-must-have-with-your-children
Just a reminder about children wearing the VAS uniform. I have noticed some colourful clothing being worn underneath polo shirts as well as colourful socks and tights being worn. Please ensure that anything worn under the polo is navy or white. Socks and tights must be white, black or navy.