Wow! It’s Wednesday! How Responsible Are We For Our Kids’ Views On Race?

If Jerry Garcia and Nina Simone had hooked up, they would've definitely had a butterfly -- after she got the caterpillar stuff out of the way first.

If Jerry Garcia and Nina Simone had hooked up, they would've definitely had a butterfly, but she would have started off as a caterpillar.

Interestingly enough, I received this Newsweek article from three different people, which I took as a hint that I should mention it on the ole blog. The article can basically be summarized as this: even if white parents think they are teaching kids not to see race, kids still see it, and not only segregate themselves accordingly, but also consider their own race superior. This is mostly because as it turns out when most white parents say that they’re teaching their kids not to see race, what they really mean is that they don’t talk to their kids about race. Like at all. And so kids come to their own conclusion, like that their own skin color is the best, and oh yeah, that their liberal parents don’t like black people.

Now I find this last point most interesting, b/c if you had asked me whether my parents liked white people when I was a child, I would have said no. Not because they didn’t like white people (I found out later that they both considered it a waste of time and energy to hate on white people), but because I never saw them with white people. They didn’t have any white friends and the only white people that ever came over to our house were invited by my sister and me.

So no, I didn’t think my parents liked white people. And I imagine that it doesn’t matter how liberal you are or what you say. If your kids don’t regularly see you with people of other races, then they’ll probably come to the same conclusion as the kids in the featured Newsweek study.

Oh, and another off-main-topic point from the article: the vast majority of people have a same-race best friend. I, myself, have a black best friend, even though my social world is mostly populated by white people, so I find this easy to believe. Contrary to what television and movies try to tell you, most people best-friend within their own race. Interesting, right?

But back to the main topic. The Newsweek article got me to thinking about how Betty will perceive race — especially since it didn’t mention interracial children at all. More specifically, I wonder if she’ll prefer one side over the other.  I featured a video last month, in which a little biracial girl said she felt embarrassed when her black mother came to pick her up, b/c all of her friends’ mothers were white. I really, really don’t want Betty to be that girl.

But then all the handwringing of the article had me wondering about something articles like this never seem to consider. Just how responsible are parents for their children’s views on race?

Now I don’t agree with “not seeing race.” That view makes race seem like a pejorative concept, and I think it’s better to teach our kids to embrace as opposed to ignore our differences. However, I’m also aware that there are plenty of racists that don’t have racist parents and plenty of “one-worlders” who do.

If a stone-cold racist screeder like the terrorist who invaded the Holocaust museum couldn’t convince his own son to also be a racist, then how can we expect our children to embrace our higher ideals?

I can talk to Betty about race until I’m blue in the face, but in the end she’ll draw her own conclusions.

But maybe you disagree. Do you think that parents are responsible for how their children perceive race? And IR parents, are you scared that your child will reject or be ashamed of your half of her or his heritage. Let us know in the comments.