Thursday, March 17, 2011

When We Teach Children Racism

I guess teaching White privilege and racism has to start early.



Transcript

    Mother: Go like this, what's up my nigga

    child: what's up my nigga

    Mother: say nigga nigga nigga

    child: nigga nigga nigga

    Mother: Say this is a good drink nigga

    child: this is a good drink nigga

    Mother: nigga (smiling and giggling at the camera)
Watching that video made me so incredibly sad.  That poor little boy is just repeating what his mother is saying, because he thinks it's a game.  Racism is something that is actively taught to children, and in a few years, he will attach meaning to the words that he was taught in the video, thus internalizing the belief that Whiteness elevates him above all POC.


I have long believed that teaching a child hatred, whether it be racism, transphobia, ableism, ageism, etc is child abuse.  Society is going to do enough to ingratiate these ideas in their young minds, without their parents coming along and confirming every negative ism that they come across.  This child's life will not be enriched because he has learned to say racist things, he will only learn to believe that he is better than people of colour, and it will make it difficult for him to negotiate a society in which White people are well on the way to losing their majority status.

I have written a lot  about the racial issues by darling Destruction has had to face over the years.  I have time and time again been accused of radicalizing him, when in fact, all we are doing is reacting to the racism that he has faced -- doing our utmost best to do damage control. I have often spoken about the fact that Black children are forced to lose their innocence at a much younger age, while White children are protected.  This mother did not want to do the hard work of teaching her child about anti-racism and instead took the easy root of teaching her child to uphold it. Not all White parents are blatantly teaching their children racist language, but when you fail to talk about racism in real and critical ways, you are no better than the woman in this video.

Whiteness has to be actively protected and though many will not admit that this occurs on a daily basis, it is the absolute truth.  It begins by teaching White children to perceive that there is a benefit to being White, and then it continues by not affirming the value of POC.  The idea that White supremacy is naturally occurring, is ridiculous, and yet many feel that they can hide behind their racist actions by claiming that they have a Black friend, or going into complete denial mode about their own acts of overt racism.  Even if you have the common decency not to say something racist, the fact that you are thinking in a racist way makes you just as guilty.  These supposedly unconscious thoughts always end in real acts of prejudice. 

I know that after the video is watched, many will be quick to convict this woman of teaching racism, but few will have the courage to take the message one step further and examine their own actions.  It is always easy to find someone else who is supporting an ism, and it is much harder to convict ourselves, because we want to believe the lie that such evil does not exist within us. While you are condemning this woman, take the time to think about how you have perpetuated an ism, and if you have the courage to own the truth, please share in the comments.