Kids are not blind to the racial issues that are plaguing America.
“I feel a little scared if I just walk down the street,” said 12-year-old Lamine Fofana in a video produced by WNYC, a public radio station in New York City. “Cops might just think I’m doing something bad and if I try to explain to them, they won’t listen and just start beating me up and doing terrible things to me.”
Fofana is just one of nine 12-year-old students who participated in a new video series titled “Being 12.” In the video above, the children — who come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds — share their perspective on growing up in today’s multicultural world and describe disturbing experiences dealing with race and culture.
One Venezuelan girl said she questioned her heritage after some kids made fun of a dish her family eats. In another clip, a biracial boy said he feels conflicted to prove himself when others tell him he’s not black.
A Haitian-Nigerian girl saw her parents victimized by racial prejudices.
“I remember when I was younger I went with my family to [a] restaurant and they made us pay in advance just in case we didn’t pay afterwards and that was kind of upsetting,” she said.
The full article is located here.
I remember growing up (and I touched on this on an earlier post) how I received similar questions. I have two college-educated parents. My mom read with me every night. I tested high enough to be in the G.A.T.E. program but my mother instead put me in Honors because she didn’t want me to be treated differently. I grew up in a nice part of town. My parents were middle-class and I never knew about a struggle (if there was one, it was privately kept).
Yet, I received the questions and comments –
“You don’t talk Black.”
“You don’t act Black.”
“I thought you lived in the hood.”
“You act White.”
“You sound White.”
“Why are all of your friends White?”
“You like Metal? I thought you liked hip-hop and rap.”
People have a fascination with expectations of other races based on stereotypes. I know this because I’ve been guilty of this myself. When I first dated M., his family wasn’t welcoming. His father had a huge issue with his son dating a Black girl, based on what he’d seen on TV and certain parts of L.A. It is because of me, he realizes that Black people are not a monolith.
I don’t think there is one solution to make our children culturally aware. There is going to be teasing and there will be racist comments, either said to or from children. We do have the power, however, not raise racists and prejudiced children.