Last week I saw this video posted around on social media and my first thought was, “Yeah, that’s cute. Nice message.” But then something gave me pause. So I watched it again. And it occurred to me that this video was a great example of white privilege in children.
Being surprised by racism is a privilege white children have that most children of color don’t have.
Watch it if you haven’t seen it yet:
So I watched it again. And again. And each time, it bugged me more and more.
With each viewing I noticed more and more things to be annoyed about.
Let me break it down.
1. It’s mostly white kids doing all the talking. There are eight white children. Two black children. One Asian child. And one child who looks biracial. The main child of color who talks is the Asian kid.
Are you telling me that you couldn’t find more black children for this video?
So, what’s wrong with white kids doing the talking? They don’t know what they are talking about. It looks like a bunch of white people got together and made this video to prove to the rest of the world that we are doing such a great job teaching our kids about racism.
2. All the white kids say all the same kind of stuff that pisses black people off when they talk about racism. “What? You mean there are still racists in the world? Well, not in my neck of the woods. That’s somewhere else in other parts of the country where they are all just a bunch of ignorant rednecks.”
3. No kids. Martin Luther King Jr. did not “fix” all that stuff. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. And it’s not just in certain parts of the country.
4. Here’s the big one. The black kids barely spoke. And when they do talk, they get cut off. The black boy who speaks the most even says that his friends “say racist stuff to be funny.” He doesn’t think it’s funny at all.
While I appreciate the sentiment of this piece, I find the nature of it flippant and disrespectful of the seriousness with which we should be discussing race with our kids. It’s one of those messages that is just ignorant enough to be dangerous. This video is a message that we are on the right path. “Hey look, our kids aren’t racist!” But they are, because they are refusing to see color. They aren’t being taught to look at things in a realistic light.
I think it’s very strange that the kids don’t seem to notice that the parents aren’t the same skin color. But I wonder if they just don’t “notice” because they’ve been taught not to notice.
What’s wrong with noticing skin color? Can’t these kids see? I can understand that they don’t care. But that they really didn’t notice it? Sorry, not buying that.
And I don’t blame the kids. They are just pawns in this video. Spouting all the naive rhetoric their parents or mentors have passed on as a Great Way to Teach Kids How Not To Be Racist.
But here’s the thing. If you’re going to teach kids about something, I mean really teach them, you have to teach the whole thing.
You can’t just say, “Everyone’s equal, treat everyone the same,” without explaining where that came from. Yes, of course the topics should be age appropriate. But as they age, kids need to hear about the atrocities in our country. They should be taught about slavery, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation, and white privilege, not just the Civil Rights Movement.
They should be shown that racism is not dead and how it has systemically produced hardships for large swaths of people of color.
We need to challenge all the rhetoric instead of spreading it.
Next time you hear some white person say, “Everyone’s equal” with a big smile and nothing else to go with it; or “Skin color doesn’t matter;” or “My kids are colorblind,” and it makes you a little sick to your stomach, then you’ll know you’re headed on the right path to teaching your kids the true nature of equality.
Yes, we are different. It’s okay to be different on the outside and still be the same on the inside. And it’s okay to notice the differences. That’s what will make us all equal. Knowing our differences and working together to ensure that we are all treated fairly anyway.