how do you teach resilience to racism?

(38 Posts)
bluedemilune Tue 21-Nov-17 19:19:42

and i mean resilience to racism, not just awareness of racism. i think this is so important for ethnic minority children in the UK as mental health problems and depression can take root if they don't know how to cope with racism.
of course we teach them to stand tall but how about when theyre faced with scepticism or negativity? is it enough to emphasis the importance of good education? should we teach them to ignore racism? or confront it head on? what about insiduious racism, the skepticism or having to constantly prove oneself or having ones skills undermined?

OP’s posts: |
confusedmummyalways Sat 02-Dec-17 19:27:41

I don't know the answer at all...but this scares me for my boys future. They are both British/Nigerian and I worry about them going through things and the struggles they may face because of the colour of their skin. In the current state of the world I can't see how they won't go through things and I want them to know how to respond. I want them to be strong and confident in themselves and be able to shut any ignorant person down. And I want to be able to stand up for them and where they're from. I had a incident when my first boy was 1 years old and when the election for Prime Minister was happening, and two men shouted at me and my son "WE VOTE UKIP!!" and at the time I didn't know enough to respond and was intimidated too. But I will not let that happen again. And I will forever learn and be present in all things that happen. Change is slow, and that is so very sad. XxX

katymac Sat 02-Dec-17 19:34:49

Positive body images help
Positive role models help
Developing self-confidense and self-esteem

I think my DD (20, mixed Jamaican and british white) has been helped by a complete refusal to accept discrimination in all forms - she is aware of feminism, of being aware of the problems disabled people face, that you can't be treated badly becasue of your age or religion - these all help with standing up for yourself

But she was badly bullied at about 7, and pre-brexit she challenged students in her class at college wrt discrimination/immigration

Who knows if we've done it right or not?

jaimelannistersgoldenhand Sat 02-Dec-17 19:55:37

I don't know the right answer but here's my experience based on being a parent of 3 teens. In an ideal world, your child would be able to shut down racists with words but in reality my advice is different.

The child has to work out if it's a safe place to challenge racism. If they are alone and approached by a group then best to get out of there. It's embarrassing and humiliating to take the insult but physical safety has to be paramount. If in the classroom then safe to challenge, especially if there are witnesses who would corroborate what would happen with the teacher. My experience if schools is that racism is dealt with much more harshly and swiftly than homophobia and sexism.

The child needs to be taught about their culture if their education/place of residence is not their background. I obviously don't mean in a "my culture is better than yours" kind of way but "my culture is great" pride is important. They also need to be open-minded and not judge people of other races just the way that they want theirs respected.

If they are old enough then they need to learn that you can't change other people's opinions on race, religion, politics, homosexuality... Racists don't want educating on facts like not everyone in Africa is starving like in the videos for Comic Relief or whatever. Even if you were the same race as a racist, chances are that they'd simply be an ignorant dick in a different way.

Enjoy your good friends. They might ask silly questions like whether McDonalds in Japan is eaten with chopsticks but they aren't being racist, just need a hole in their knowledge filled. If they are embarrassed and apologetic about a gaffe like that, chances are they aren't racist.

drspouse Sat 02-Dec-17 22:06:33

I am following with interest- DD (aged 3) is adopted and mixed ethnicity, though her birth dad's ethnicity was one that's really uncommon in the UK though we try to promote it as best we can.
So far I think we're doing something right as she tells everyone she's got lovely brown skin while another mixed race DC I know told his mum he didn't want to have brown skin any more (he also lives in an all white family as his dad is absent- abroad I think).
But I only have ideas suitable to a 3 year old so far.

bluedemilune Sun 03-Dec-17 10:15:20

Thanks so much for the replies. jaimelannister something you said chimed with me "The child has to work out if it's a safe place to challenge racism". you said it in terms of yobs on the street but i also think its important in the working world to have that awareness of when it is suitable to challenge, when you should carry on regardless, and when you should just cut your losses and go.

iv found sometimes it is detrimental to point out racism in the workplace when it is the sly, underhand type. iv been through lots of things in my life that help me to cope in such situations but i learnt them the hard way though they taught me resilience. should i expose my children to those same experiences in order to teach them to toughen up? that sometimes its not kumbaya or power to the people', but rather a mix of 'ill show them' and 'ain't nobody going to bring me down!'.

its interesting you said that confused and *katie about teaching them positivity and pride in your children's non white heritage. DH copes extremely well with racist situations at work and he attributes that to an upbringing of constant praise and positivity, so he had a very healthy self esteem growing up. i would have thought thats the way to go but then sometimes young men (of my ethnicity in particular), growing up with that sort of upbringing literally crumble when they go out into the real world and face racism. that not everyone can see their hard work or their qualities, that some people are skeptical and resistant from the off.

what do you teach your children to do then? face it head on? beaver away to prove yourself even though it is undignified when other people do not have to prove themselves?especially if youve taught them to have a very good opinion of themselves how can they cope with the microagressions or indignities of insidious or institutional racism in the workplace.

this isnt even about racism only, sexism and classism are rife and can hold a person back just as strongly. certainly iv seen the effect of the latter on my working class white female colleagues so i know its not just racism that makes one feel 'this isnt your place'.

drspouse i think you are definitely doing great if your daughter at 3 already has that positivity about her skin colour and brownness. the famous doll tests carried out by Mamie Phipps and Kenneth Clark in the 1940s were done on young children and they proved that even at a young age the self identification of black children can already be set to negative. even when those tests done in modern times - A girl Like me - they still showed the same sad results.

i think theres now a fair few positive ethnic mainstream characters for young girls to identify with: Princess Tiana in disneys 'the princess and the frog', doc mcstuffins on nick jr, the movie Annie with quvenzhané wallis as lead character and Dreamworks movie 'home'. i get alot of pleasure watching those cartoons with my children but then i realised something interesting. in each of those four the young black girls are not just the main characters and having adventures, each of them has a separate academic bent they make a point of mentioning in the movie. princess tiana has a head for figures and wants to open her own business. doc mcstuffins is a vet, annie is really good at math and in the movie home theres also a line about how the main girl character is really good at science/geometry. coming from a STEM background myself i am happy there is this encouragement in these programmes.

but there isnt a single male mainstream character for young black boys to see and identify with in the same way. not a single one. i would love to know if there is one. nevermind the small asides on a hero's/heroine's literacy and numeracy, there are no mainstream childrens shows with a black male lead full stop. and so i wondered if i raise up my daughters with these positive self images of capable intelligent adventurous black young girls, where are their male counterparts going to come from? the disparity is already seen in my generation where young women of my ethnicity already outdo the boys in education and entering the professions, i wondered if the disparity would be even greater on my daughters generation.

as a feminist i should probably celebrate that? but i dont look at this with only feminist eyes as holistically i find this issue leads to problems with coping with racism. the black young male as the black young female also needs to feel that the lab or the boardroom or the operating theatre is their 'place' just as much as it is for anyone else. and i dont know where my son can see that possibility at his young age as my daughters can and memorise the lines to.

OP’s posts: |
confusedmummyalways Sun 03-Dec-17 11:52:45

Earlier this year myself and my partner watched a BBC documentary "Will Britain Ever Have A Black Prime Minister?" and every detail discussed just broke my heart. From nursery school mixed race and black children are seen as hyperactive and problem children when in a predominantly white school. This follows them through school, so some (not all) start to believe this of themselves. Also in "elite" schools like oxford and Cambridge 98% of staff are white, and 94% of the school population is white. Even when mixed race and black students are getting the same grades or better they are being refused places. In the end it said that a black or mixed race person has a one in 200,000 chance of becoming prime minister while a white person has a much higher chance. It's such an eye opening documentary and upsetting.
I have already had experience with the nursery things already with my eldest. He was told constantly in his first nursery (which in the end he was assaulted by a staff member) that he was naughty etc. I was never told a positive thing about him the whole time he went to this place. And he is a lovely, polite boy, and believe me I'm not the type of mother who's "oh my son would never do that!" But like in the documentary I do believe that the more children here "you're naughty" or "not good enough" then they start to believe it.
Work is another place I hate to see and my partner worked in the same job role and hearing him talk about if we both went for the same job that I would get it because I'm white and he's black, makes me angry and disgusted that we are judged that way and not on merit. He's always been much better at this job role than me but he wouldn't be judged on that. It's diabolical.
The world seems to go forward so many steps and then back a hundred more.

katymac Sun 03-Dec-17 13:09:51

It's a mix isn't it - DD auditioned for performing arts and one college definitely didn't offer her a place because of her colour - but 4 definitely did (whether that's a good thing or not I don't know), mentioning her 'look' or her hair

In a chat at college this year the 'white' girls (blonde/skinny) were bemoaninhg the fact that so many west end shows had parts for non-white performers and that didn't stand a chance - DD & her friend sniggered at the total naivity of them

It's really hard as a white mum, a fairly switched on white mum at that, I hate, hate, hate positive discrimination but when DD was offered 4.5 hrs of top quality dance class in London for £10 a week because she was black - I took it; assimilation into native culture is thought to take 3 generations and there is a massive shortage of 'black' performers and we import them from all over the world for Lion King et al

DD refuses to play white or black roles or asian because she is mixed and will only apply for mixed roles or roles where the colour is not important.

She challenges when she thinks she will have an effect and walks away when it's scary - she has a great sense of humour and she turns it back on people where she can. But when they told her she only got a job because of her hair, she pointed out X only got that job because of her voice or Y only got his job because of his 6 pack

Lawdavmercy Tue 05-Dec-17 15:47:12

Following this thread with interest, agree with what's been said too. Have had to put up with pig-ignorant comments from parents for years, some are now filtering down to my mixed race daughter and its sickening. Have taught her to stand tall and challenge comments that have made her uncomfortable, but of course its not always obvious racist name calling or physical violence you have to contend with, as has been mentioned. I've learnt to tune out the idiots but she can't, not always. I've taught her to celebrate her blackness and to love and develop ALL her qualities as her colour is just part of that. A lot of sense on this thread smile. So frustrating though sad

TeaAddict235 Tue 05-Dec-17 19:48:48

I think that to be able to stand up to racism is something that is a life long affair unfortunately. It will not ever be eradicated as much of the developed world and developing world's policies and agendas were built on Eurocentric power and supremacy.

Having a positive mental attitude is definitely the key! The children need to know about the successes of their own two/ numerous cultures. I.e. if they are dual heritage black and white then they must be taught about the black scientists, abolitionists, writers, engineers etc who did exist, not only in the USA but in Europe and in Africa and Latin America, across the diaspora. They must be brought to museums and culturally enlightening events that show them that black is beautiful, because their white heritage (British, German, polish, Swedish etc ) will always be celebrated at mainstream institutions and in literature. They need to read multicultural books where the protagonist is non white, to know that their thoughts are voiced.

Finally, they need to know that they are loved and beautiful by you, us, their parents. That we love their quirks and normalities, e.g. we love their birthmark, or we love their hair in a certain style, or how they write - something , anything that is very unique but different to our own-selves. And that they are always loved (even when they are being a pain in the backside), and that no matter what the world says about them, they are the best of both / all of our cultures.

From this knowledge of their culture, and grounding in constant love, then they have the correct tools to fight racism daily, in their own way. Just as we as parents do our own part, and grind down racism at the workplace, in our social clubs etc, each step forward is for ALL and not for a few.

RestingGrinchFace Tue 05-Dec-17 19:55:02

Racism is stupid. Anyone who does/says something racist is an idiot/uncultured peasant

Worked well enough for us when we were children and it's also true so that's good too. Quite frankly if you are hurt by racist comments then you must have internalised the racism to an extent otherwise they wouldn't effect you. So long as you teach your children to judge others by their actions and their words and not their skin tone they should be just fine.

RestingGrinchFace Tue 05-Dec-17 20:00:10

Also please don't buy into the whole 'black is beautiful' parade. If you are segregating their own race/ancestry from the rest of humanity you are reinforcing racism and the idea that your race defines anything beyond the way you look. They shouldn't feel limited by their race even if that limitation if made in a positive light. Your children should be taught to admire people/things like music, art etc. Without belong to the culture or race that the person/thing is associated with. I'm not saying don't teach them about their racial heritage of course but don't encourage them to identify as anything less than a member of the human race. They are no different to anyone else. They just look different and looks are superficial.

drspouse Tue 05-Dec-17 20:16:48

If you have a BME child you need to counter the million and one messages from the media that white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes are the ideal.
Not sure how you can do that without telling them they are beautiful and that people who look like them are beautiful.
If someone randomly made a racist comment about my child damn right I'd be hurt. And I've not exactly internalised that I or she is inferior due to the colour of my or her skin - so I don't really understand what you are saying - does it mean that if someone makes a sexist comment, I can only be hurt because deep down I think I'm inferior.because I'm female?
Do you have a BME child or are you BME yourself?

RestingGrinchFace Tue 05-Dec-17 20:25:32

You've internalised the idea that your race is a reflection on you as a person-it isn't, you actions are, your words are, your thoughts and feelings are but your race signifies nothing more than your genetic makeup. Your race is your body, not you. You are not your body but rather what you do with it. The whole black is beautiful/white is beautiful thing is superficial. Your body is not beautiful. It is attractive or aesthetically pleasing but it's just a thing. It's not enough on its own to be beautiful. The things you do with it are what makes your body beautiful. Your body is beautiful when you make love to someone special, your body is beautiful when you carry and child and give birth to it, your body is beautiful when you use it to help others or to dance or to sing. Likewise it becomes ugly when you use it to hurt others or to spread hateful ideas. Without you, without your soul your body is just a thing. It is not a part of you. If you woke up tomorrow in a different body (as well all inevitably do I suppose when you consider changes wrought by age) you are still you. You have internalised the idea that your physical state is somehow a reflection on your true self. This idea is the foundation of racism, and sexism, and homophobia etc. If you teach your children to value true self, the kind of self that is only visible and palpable through action then they won't give a rat's arse about race, or physical appearance or anything else so superficial.

RestingGrinchFace Tue 05-Dec-17 20:26:28

Oh, and My children a mixed race, I am ethnic minority not mixed. Although that's really not important as I explained above.

AfunaMbatata Tue 05-Dec-17 20:52:06

Quite frankly if you are hurt by racist comments then you must have internalised the racism to an extent otherwise they wouldn't effect you

Bullshit. Before my DD was even born my pregnant stomach was spat on and called disgusting simply because my baby would be mixed. Obviously it was my own internal racism that made me break down and cry, not the fact that i realised that even before she was born people were judging and being hateful towards her. hmm

slightlyglittermaned Tue 05-Dec-17 20:58:02

I really don't like the message that racist comments only hurt if you have internalised racism. They hurt because it is frightening and saddening to have people spit hatred at you, especially when you are the only non-white kid in the playground.

My parents did a reasonable job of preparing us - I'm not sure I can analyse what though. Self-belief was an important part of it, but also talking over incidents and how we could deal with them.

RestingGrinchFace Tue 05-Dec-17 21:26:16

Think it through. Idiot says something idiotic based on your race. Instead of laughing it off because they've just made an idiot of themselves you get upset about the thing that the idiot has just said. Why? You wouldn't care about what an idiot says surely? They are a nobody afterall, but maybe you don't make the connection between saying something racist and that person being an idiot? Alternatively you get hurt about the idiotic thing that they said. But why would you be upset over a non-sensical comment? Unless you don't completely believe that it's non-sensical. Racism is no less ridiculous than spitting on a pregnant woman because she is wearing a red shirt or because she has two legs or because she has two X chromosomes. Race is meaningless. The only thing that is dependant on your race is your appearance and appearance is superficial. The only way that you could possibly be hurt by this is by believing (even a tiny bit) that your race is a reflection on you as a person. This the underlying principle of racism and believing it (even if it is just a tiny bit) is an internalisation of racism.

TeaAddict235 Tue 05-Dec-17 21:28:19

The OP asked for suggestions on how to make our children more resilient, not how to ignore it restinggrinch. Your statement of

"Quite frankly if you are hurt by racist comments then you must have internalised the racism to an extent otherwise they wouldn't effect you. So long as you teach your children to judge others by their actions and their words and not their skin tone they should be just fine."

Essentially is saying that POC shouldn't be hurt by comments or actions and should toughen up. How do you tell that to a 3 year old dual heritage, say Caucasian- Malay who has been told by a Scandinavian heritage child that they look like a wolf because of their eyes? Or something like that? So we should teach our children that their colour will not dictate how the world sees them? Have you not travelled around recently? Ever been to the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, the Czech, as a family of Colour? Oh yes, all that "bad treatment" that you experienced as an exchange pupil had nothing to do with your Colour. It's all poppycock.

I think that you are the type of person, hopefully that my relatives will be able to discern as someone they don't need to have in their lives.

Teaching children that 'black is beautiful' , say if they live in majority white countries or say in Asia, is important as the world that they live in will Never let them forget that they are not the majority race. Teachers, employers, police, etc etc etc will not treat them equally to say a Caucasian, it has been shown in numerous studies that POC receive poorer quality of services in health, education, law, etc etc etc. Thus obviously unless my PhD is void, better inform Imperial their life expectancy and outcomes are directly affected should I draw you a simple positively correlated graph?

The saying 'black is beautiful' is not to say that white, latino, Asian etc races are not (if that is what you are offended by), but Caucasian heritage is celebrated vehemently in media, literature, art and history. African diaspora history and culture has been nearly eradicated from the curriculum in Europe and Latin American schools and universities (aside from the specialist institutions dedicated to such them).


"Your race is your body, not you. You are not your body but rather what you do with it. The whole black is beautiful/white is beautiful thing is superficial. Your body is not beautiful. It is attractive or aesthetically pleasing but it's just a thing. It's not enough on its own to be beautiful. The things you do with it are what makes your body beautiful. "

Try telling that to Alexandra Schulman the previous editor of vogue. Her magazine would clearly disagree with your statements on many levels. Her magazine would agree with your statements for black and South Asian models, and definitely not Caucasian models.

TeaAddict235 Tue 05-Dec-17 21:30:54

Tell this

"The only way that you could possibly be hurt by this is by believing (even a tiny bit) that your race is a reflection on you as a person. "

To all the young black men incarcerated this evening, or to those who have been stopped and searched, AND have never committed a crime nor fallen foul of the law.

raging you are a troll.

AfunaMbatata Tue 05-Dec-17 21:34:16

Ok, now you just be chatting nonsense Restinggrinch. Have a good night biscuitbrew

RestingGrinchFace Tue 05-Dec-17 21:39:22

I feel like I am banging my head against a wall here. It's not about ignoring it. It's about realising that racists are idiots. Their words and actions reveal them to be less than you. You are better than them and therefore it would be foolish to give half a fuck about what they say.

Also your points above regarding services etc. are definitely not true of my experience. I would imagine that those statistics are screed by class. We always receive the best, often better than a lot of the white British around us. It's not because of the way we look but because we known when and how to put people in their place.

As for fashion models-the whole point of being a clothes model is the objectification of one's body. Do you really mean to suggest that models or prostitues are selling themselves as opposed to the services their bodies render? It's not a reflection of the individual, just the body. It's a basic metaphysical distinction.

It's not about toughening up, it's about seeing things for what they are. It's about seeing yourself for who you are and not caring what other people think because it is stupid to base your self worth on the opinions of those who a lesser than you.

RestingGrinchFace Tue 05-Dec-17 21:41:29

Point taken regarding racial profiling-but you would still be silly to get upset over it. Frustrated yes, indignant yes. These feelings both indicate that you know it is wrong. But sad or upset-this is defeat. It is intellectual defeat.

RestingGrinchFace Tue 05-Dec-17 21:42:53

*frustrated that idiots are in a position of power, not that you are brown.

RavingRoo Tue 05-Dec-17 21:45:44

If you are in a major city, I think the worst racism your kids will experience will be from other adults - kids nowadays (especially in mainstream education) are taught about diversity but it’s still a fairly new thing. (Kids find non-race related things to bully about). So this should tie in with what your existing policy is about random adults making comments about and to your kids. My mum used to tell us to ignore what strangers said, good or bad, as they didn’t know you well enough to make that judgement and I find the message still translates well to my neice.

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