We had our prelude to Black History Month in January where we learned all about Martin Luther King, Jr. and how to get people to be nice by giving them a sharp civil rights to the kidney.
This month we continued the celebration by playing GEEBEE’s Black History Memory game. I have pictures of us playing the game but… you know… the internet being down and all…
So the game arrived in the mail and the kids were stoked. You could send them a package of lentils in the mail and they’d be excited because it was a PACKAGE! They were pleased. I decided that the best way to teach them about black history was to tell them about these amazing people without bringing up the issue of race.
I wanted to raise them to be colorblind. So I told them we were going to play a game about heroes. The box includes a matching game and a booklet that gives a little bit of background about what made these artists, historic figures, scientists and inventors important. For example. Do you know anything about Buffalo Soldiers besides that they were dreadlock rastas, stolen from Africa, brought to America, fighting on arrival, fighting for survival? I didn’t either but now I do. The game also has a small section on culture where we learned about the history of Kwanza.
We started the game about heroes with no mention of their race and I was thinking I was pretty smart. My thought was that their accomplishments were pretty impressive on their own without the caveat of, “Oooo. Look what she accomplished even though she was black!” I wanted to just say, “Oooo. Look what she accomplished! What a great woman!”
But as we continued to play, I was truly affected by their stories not just because they were amazing people but because they were amazing people despite the way they were treated. The handicap was not the color of their skin but the way people treated them because of the color of their skin and that’s a lesson that needs to be taught. I decided to bring race to the forefront of the game.
My kids need to hear about race relations and they need to know that amazing men and women worked their way out of slavery and then went on to make a positive difference to the world. They need to know that Harriet Tubman was not content with her own freedom but worked to help thousands of others as well. They need to know that these people were black and how they were treated because they were black and they need to work to never let something like that happen again.
The sad thing is that it’s still happening. People are not considered equal in this country, not truly. Every time I fill out a form that asks for my race, I feel twinge of discomfort. I am Caucasian. My race shelters me and makes things easier for me in ways I’ll never fully understand and how is that fair?
I wasn’t honestly sure how much of the teaching was getting through to them as they enjoyed collecting matches and laughing together and only half-listened to the stories I was reading between turns.
But when we finished Laylee touched me on the arm and said, “I’m glad I wasn’t alive when there was slavers. I wouldn’t ever want to have been alive back when people cared about skin whether it was light or dark.”
I’m sad that she will grow to find out that some people do still care about skin but I’m glad to be teaching her what I think about it. If I raise the kids to be blind to differences in skin color, then someone who’s less blind to those differences will get the chance to teach them and I’d rather have the chance to let them know that their only “racial intolerance” should be towards inequality.
You can find this and other Black History games and puzzles at Wal-Mart this month or at Pressman Toy.
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Brook Ann The Great says
YEAH for you, and teaching your kids about the real issues of life. I applaud you. I was raised that color didn’t matter, and although people told me that racism existed I didn’t really get it because I was raised in family with black, and Mexican, and Korean, and Indian cousins, and I never thought about it. I was taught that we are all the same. Then I married a Mexican, and learned the pain of being on the receiving end of ignorance, and racism as I watched him be given fewer opportunities than others, despite his incredible competency and skill. I ached as I head people’s commentary to me about “those immigrants” when they didn’t know that I happen to love one of that “lesser race” Now we live in Mexico, and I am the target. People have ideas all over the world about the minority. People can’t believe it when I can cook, or wash by hand, or work hard, because many believe that Americans are lazy and especially American woman. I have to laugh when I get to shock their socks off, just by dong what I do and being who I am. I am so happy that you teach your children not to judge by the color of someone’s skin. I hope my kids can learn to be colorblind, and I hope more moms like you will teach their kids to be colorblind too. I love you posts by the way, you are a highlight in my day.
Good for you- teaching the kids such great lessons.
I’ve experienced being the minority quite a bit lately, pretty much whenever we go up to Vancouver to visit my in-laws. I’m frequently the only Caucasian person in a crowd of hundreds, or even at an entire shopping center. It’s a strange feeling. People are nice, but they do stare. Gives me a small glimpse of what life is like for my husband.
I know that racism that I’m going to have to figure out how to teach Ethan about when he gets older. Since we live in Seattle, in such an ethnically diverse area, I’m hoping that he wont personally face any discrimination. But I know that people have made comments discriminatory comments about Asian people to my parents (who live in the South) before finding out that their son-in-law is Chinese. It’s hard to believe that discrimination is still out there, but it is.
Isn’t it amazing how thoughtful we have to be ALL THE TIME when we are with our kids? The phrase “you are your child’s first teacher” means sooooooo much. Good for you for not letting this fabulous teaching moment go by.
I know it’s not the same as the Black Experience, but I’m constantly on the lookout for people who see Down syndrome in my son’s face and might be treating him differently. I want him to live in a world where he won’t be judged by what people see on his face, but I know we aren’t there yet. I surely hope that seeing differences (race, religion or whatever) and then accepting them will help us get to that kind of world.
Cousin Deb says
I rather detest the ethnic question on a survey. There is no box for me. I usually check “other” now. Even though my boys are technically 3/4 white, I do tend to feel a little disloyal for checking the caucasian box.
Good for you! Your kids are lucky to have you for a mommy.
Thank the Lord for children’s innocence and acceptance. I have often wished that it would last forever.
There’s a song from the movie “South Pacific” called, “You have to be taught”. It refers to the innocence of youth and how prejudice is a learned behavior. Well, I think love and acceptance come naturally, but we need to be constantly reinforcing it, to prevent the teaching of hate and judgement that can come from outside influences. Bless you for doing it and for doing it early and often – not from a sense of duty, but because you really believe it.
I LOVE YOU!
Fancypants McGee says
I am trying to teach my kids about ethnic/racial diversity. Its very difficult considering their young ages, but its never too early. We live in a very diverse community, but there is a great deal of racism left in the south, especially in a large city like Atlanta. You would think a city like ATL would be more advanced than it is, but you would be wrong. It is a very touchy subject here. I try to be very open about it and teach my children that racism and discrimination is wrong and to see everyone equally.
Okay, I just re-read my comment above, and it barely makes sense! I’m not sure what happened while I was typing. Apologies for posting such a confusing comment!
There will be less and less racism, as there is more and more intermarriage. Here in Trinidad, there is no “race” box on forms. Instead, there is a “skin colour” box: light brown, medium brown, dark brown. Eyes: blue, green, hazel, brown. Hair: light brown, dark brown, black. We have so much mixing here, that “race” usually starts a whole conversation about the 99 different races that a person is!
I live in an area that is predominatly white, we are actually finally getting a little more diversified. It is amazing how people feel and treat others…but there is racism for more than just skin color. Here we have a lot of people on Welfare, and the racism is strong. I’m glad you are making your children aware, it’s hard sometimes to make them understand.
But one thing about the race box making things better for ‘caucasian’s’…sometimes it’s the opposite. With coprorations having to make ‘quota’s’ of how many people they have of each ‘race’ and ‘gender’ for that matter marking the boxes can keep White Males from getting a job just as easily. It’s a crazy world we live in…hopefully one day it will be a place where we are accepted for who we are and what we can do…not what color or gender we are.
Keep up the good work!!
I also liked your thoughts on this issue, but my eyes widened a bit when I saw the link to Wal-Mart at the end. They really do exploit people and give barriers to people in struggling countries, just like race is a barrier in our country. All to bring us lower prices. I think one great way to become a nation where people are valued for their worth we might start by being more careful consumers.
You quoted Bob Marley. Rock on.
I THINK THAT RACISM IS WRONG BECAUSE NOONE SHOULD BE JUDGE BY THIER SKIN TONE BECAUSE A LONG TIMR AGO BEFORE THIS STARED BACK IN AFRICA WE KING’S AND QUEEN’S BUT THEN THE WHITE PEOPLE DID NOT WANT US TO BE KING’S AND QUEEN’S SO THEY CAME TO OUR HOMES AND COUNTRY IN AFRICA AND TOOK US AWAY FROM OUR HOMES AND THEN GOING TO FORCE US TO WORK ON THEIR LAND AND SELLING US BUT THEN 2OO HUNDRED YEARS LATER THE WHITE DID NOT WANT US TO BE FREE SO THEN THAT WAS WHEN THEY DIDNT WANT US TO DRINK FROM THEIR WATER FOUNTAIN GO TO THE SAME BATHROOM AND MANY MORE AND THET IS WHY I THINK THAT THIS IS VERY VERY WRONG~!!!!!!!!!~!!!!