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Obama wins: How do you explain this day to your children?

(242 Posts)
morningpaper Wed 05-Nov-08 07:12:42

How are you explaining the news to your children?

Do you mention race and if so, how?

themildmanneredaxemurderer Wed 05-Nov-08 08:23:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Heathcliffscathy Wed 05-Nov-08 08:25:16

you know what i nearly just walked into that minefield with ds 5 and then did a body swerve. i'm not sure i want him to 'see' colour yet as he totally doesn't.

bit torn on this.

ludaloo Wed 05-Nov-08 08:25:41

Mine are all too young to really grasp it but I will be explaining it all non the less.
Doodle I agree with you there....

Well done Obama

milou2 Wed 05-Nov-08 08:27:32

I asked my 2 if it was ok to be woken up at 6am to see the news before they went to sleep last night. They agreed.

I explained about people not being allowed to sit on the seats at the front of the bus, awful stuff, like aparteid, but called segregation. I said I was afraid even now some people would not be able to get the time off work to queue up to vote.

I went to sleep early too, like Christmas Eve, but not sure that it would actually happen !! I woke at 3am and saw that the election was going Obama's way. Then at 6am woke them to see the good news. This is such an important day...

Well done USA!

spokette Wed 05-Nov-08 08:29:06

Saltire, as long as you have a hue of excess melanin in your skin, you will always be seen as black first. Just look at the vile racism that has been aimed at both Obama and Lewis Hamilton who both have white mothers. I'm black and my DH is white and I know that the world will view our DTS as black first even though DT1 has brown skin and eyes and DT2 has fair hair and blue eyes!

Anyway, back to OP.

I said to my 4yo DTS this morning that this is an historic day. Today, a man was elected in a country that has a legacy of state enforced racism and it took many dedicated campaigners to give African-Americans the right to vote as well as the right to be judged by the content of their character, not by the colour of their skin.

I also said to them that Obama's achievement was down to his hard work, hope and an enduring self-belief that he would be judged on what he does rather than what he looks like. His natural intelligence, fierce tenacity and extraordinary commitment to his hope is what has got him to where he is, not the fact that he went to some exclusive private school or had parents who could buy him privilege and connections.

This morning I played Sam Cooke's song "A change is gonna come". Well change has come not just for America but for the world and I embrace Obama wholeheartedlysmile.

One of the most poignant moments for me was seeing Jesse Jackson with tears streaming down his face because he was with Martin Luther King when he was assassinated. My goodness, I hope King is smiling down on Obama because his dream has been realised.[humble emoticon]

spokette Wed 05-Nov-08 08:31:21

DTS has fair hair, fair skin and blue eyes

mamadiva Wed 05-Nov-08 08:31:29

I must say I done a rather strange and probably patronising thing when I saw this earlier.

I had my 2.5YO DS on my lap and said to him

ME. Do you know who that is?
DS. No
ME. That is the new president of America and today is very special because he is the first ever black president.
DS. Okay then plodded off.

Just thought Id explain although he is 2

I do have mixed race family though so it seems a kind of big deal IYKWIM.

Fillyjonk Wed 05-Nov-08 08:35:49

i've explained it to them in terms of race, because this IS important. I am not going to pretend to them that black people are not still hugely discriminated against. For him to be elected he did not, sadly , just need to be the best man for the job. He had to overcome centuries of racism and bigotry, and aside from that be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the absolute best candidate possible in American minds, else he would not have had a chance.

racism is a vile thing, and I am not sheltering my mollycoddled white children from it.

VintageGardenia Wed 05-Nov-08 08:38:33

Yes my ds1 is ten and is aware of the race issue. Over the last year or so I've talked to him about relevant things when they have arisen, e.g. Nelson Mandela around his birthday, Martin Luther King on his anniversary.

He's also been endlessly playing this Campaign Trail game which is a bit hmm but gave us the opp to talk about stuff too.

He was really pleased this morning.

LittleWhizzingBella Wed 05-Nov-08 08:38:53

The black thing comes from the one drop rule, where if you had even "one drop" of black blood (whatever that means hmm) you were considered to have been defiled by blackness, so you were black. It's a hangover from that, and I think that Guardian article is on the right lines.

DS 9 has already doen about Martin Luther King in school so knows about segregation. I told him that O had won and that means he'll be the first black president. He was kind of interested, but more interested in the Amber Spyglass.

mamadiva Wed 05-Nov-08 08:39:13

Right reading that back actually, I apologise because that sounded horrible! blush It was said in a nice tone if you get me wish I could explain more to DS but hes far too young to hear about segregation etc.

I remember hearing about it and crying because a teacher used me and my mixed race cousin as examples and said well back in those days you wouldn't have been allowed to talk or play with each other. That horrified me that went on!

It has gotten alot better over the years obviously but here's hoping one day racism disappears completely!

Spokette I so agree with you on that hope Martin Luther King is watching and smiling down at Barack Obama he's achieved the unacheivable in a way Well done you.

VintageGardenia Wed 05-Nov-08 08:41:11

Also the U2 song Pride, ds1 loves it.

If you feeling at all emotional today!

needmorecoffee Wed 05-Nov-08 08:43:19

older 2 are teenagers so no explaining necassary. dd is 4 and if she could speak would be saying 'righty, now time for a disabled person to win' grin

LittleWhizzingBella Wed 05-Nov-08 08:45:11

to say nothing of a woman...

only one half of the population... hmm

but it's still an immensely momentous day, it feels like it. I have to say I jumped around the kitchen and then burst into tears when I turned on the radio. So I think the kids kind of got that something big was happenign. grin

Elffriend Wed 05-Nov-08 08:54:56

DS only two. He was a bit concerned that I was crying and smiling at the same time but no way to explain other than, "See that nice man on the telly? He has made people happy".

'Bout it really.


Doodle2U Wed 05-Nov-08 09:01:40

Filly, most of the Mnetters on here are of the generation that grew up with black faces alongside white faces, right? Certainly, I did. So I'm proud to be part of the generation which, more than any other before ours, can just accept people as being people, regardless of colour.

I want my kids to not even think colour.

They will, in time, learn about the centuries of racism and bigotry and understand the massive importance of what has just happened but if they start off with the premises "Even a black man can do this...", then black people, in their eyes, are back-footed before the kids are even out of the starting blocks.

It's not, in my head, about mollycoddling or hiding anything from them. For me, it's about breaking the damaging, negative stereotype thought chain.

We, as the parents of the next generation, have the education and opportunity, to foster total acceptance of ALL human beings, regardless of colour, ability, disability.

Kids just see people. Let's keep it that way!

Fillyjonk Wed 05-Nov-08 09:05:34

oh me too doodle

but thats not an option for them yet

we need more work before people can not think colour, and our kids are going to have to do that

Our culture is in many ways an institutionally racist one. How many black MPs do we have? (some I know but not many).

would love to believe that pretending to them that colour is irrelevant would solve all problems but sadly I don't think it WILL. There are real issues here and my white children need to take responsibility for, at the least, not perpetrating them.

MrsMattie Wed 05-Nov-08 09:06:40

My son is only 3 yrs old so I'm not talking about race or even politics, but I did tell him in simple terms about the election and the new president, called Barak Obama. He wanted to know what all the excitement was about so had to at least attempt to explain! My sister did get him dancing round the living room saying 'Go Obama!', though grin

Fillyjonk Wed 05-Nov-08 09:09:08

I also don't think you create racism by acknowleging that some people have had it harder than others

the difference is there. Yes it is purely a difference of perception of others, but that is still a difference.

My children's black, mixed race, etc friends do NOT have the option of living in a bubble where race just isn't an issue. I feel for me to allow my children to stay in that happy bubble would be just fostering another advantage of being born white.

musttryharder Wed 05-Nov-08 09:12:07

I whooped in the car when I heard the news this morning. Because for the first time ever, because of Obama, I got remotely interested in politics as one of the guys running for US president was saying things that I agreed with. Regardless of colour. However, I do not underestimate the impact on many peoples lives having a mixed race US president. HOORAH!

skidaddle Wed 05-Nov-08 09:14:43

totally agree fillyjonk. I am mixed race and have lost count of the number of white people who have been utterly gobsmacked that I got a lots of racist comments at school. I think it is easy not to see prejudice when you're not a victim of it and I think you are absolutely doing the right thing in educating your children about this.

I tried telling DD (3) and DS (10months) about it but decided dancing round the living room was a more age-appropriate celebration

Poshpaws Wed 05-Nov-08 09:15:32

So agree with you,FJ.

Poshpaws Wed 05-Nov-08 09:17:47

Oops,sorry. Not about the White children's responsibilty bit but about the significance of colour bit blush.

MrsMattie Wed 05-Nov-08 09:17:48

I don't have to scrabble around in the library trying to finding a single bloody book (in this day and age!) about black and mixed race role models for my son, now. I can just point to the US president. Wicked grin

kingprawntikka Wed 05-Nov-08 09:18:40

My children are high school age, and so were already aware of the America's fairly recent history of segregation. I am pleased to say they find the idea that countries would have policies of segregation at all shocking ,let alone as recently as the 1960's. The colour of Obama's skin doesn't matter at all, but i think in the context of what a sea change this is in America then its relevant.This is a day i never thought i would see and i am greatly encouraged by the result.

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