Kids and Racism

My 6-year-old daughter came home from school and said, “A girl in the playground says you can only join her game if you have white skin or are Australian.”

I felt my spine straighten and prickles creep up my neck. My daughter was adopted from Cambodia, and she doesn’t have white skin but she is Australian. Considering she attends an international school in the multi-cultural city of Singapore, I could only imagine how bad such racism could get in a more homogenous environment. Or was I guilty of reading racist undertones into a 6-year-old’s comments. Perhaps the bossy girl’s demands for exclusivity in her game was more akin to saying, “You can only play my game if you’re wearing a pony tail.” I hope so but I don’t think so. I later heard that a child of Indian origin at my daughter’s school had been told by a class mate, “Your skin is the colour of poo.” Another peer ran past her in the playground and said, “Did you know you’re a nigger?”

These impressionable kids must be learning racist remarks from somewhere. Possibly at home? It reminded me of my half Japanese cousin having a conversation with a school Mum, in which the woman made derogatory remarks about Asians.

“But I’m Asian,” responded my cousin in offense.

“No, I mean Asian Asians,” said the woman.

Apparently there’s a difference. I hate to think how many little ears overheard this comment. It’s something for all parents to think about. Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids to celebrate difference, to recognise our quickly globalising, multi-coloured, multi-cultural world?

multi coloured world

3 thoughts on “Kids and Racism

  1. absolutely shocked by this Sarah, and saddened too. it’s just so wrong. your point on kids hearing it from somewhere is a sad but true one. eyes are opened one voice or one stance at a time on all forms of prejudice or bullying behaviour. all the best xxx

  2. we definitely should! Unfortunately there will still be people, ill informed and I like think unintentionally who will make the wrong remarks. Remember the time in India when there was someone asking me ‘which family I worked for?’ Just because I have darker skin and my daughter is fair, blond haired and bleu eyed. It even happened in The Netherlands when my husbands neighbour mentioned to his wife ‘what a nice nanny’ I was. And when I was little there was the remark: you are dark, you smell… Lets hope the world knows this is not correct now and parents are indeed teaching their children the beauty of this multi-coloured world. Until that time we teach our own kids to be proud of who they are no matter what they look like!

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