Racism remains a reality in virtually every aspect of society. Virtually all countries suffer from this phenomenon, which is the result of irrational beliefs that have been ingrained for centuries, and fighting this type of discrimination is necessary in order to be able to socialize well.
On the other hand, racism is not just an adult thing. Its symptoms appear as early as childhood, and at this vital stage it can give rise to episodes of cruelty and suffering that make no sense at all: bullying, marginalization, mockery, prejudice, etc. In this article we will see several tips on how to educate children not to be racist .
Educating children to reject racism
It should be borne in mind that racism, in order to exist, does not require highly developed concepts of what a race is, or how black people, white people or similar are supposed to behave. It is based, fundamentally, on prejudices that arise from the interpretation of certain aesthetic features .
This means that children can already begin to develop racism almost spontaneously, without the need to “memorize” anything, simply by exposing themselves to the dynamics of interaction between people that have a racist content. Passively, they begin to learn that those who look a certain way, dress a certain way or speak a certain way, behave a certain way.
Knowing this, let’s see what we can do to educate children away from racism.
1. Don’t pretend that there is no such thing as racialized people
The first step in combating racism is to recognise that there are a number of characteristics by which certain groups of people are discriminated against because of factors linked to their appearance or family background. It is not feasible to pretend, for example, that there is no such thing as “black people” or “white people”.
The key is, however, that since the rejection of racism, these differences between people are seen as cultural constructs, something that has emerged from how we interpret reality, and not as something that is present in human biology regardless of whether we think about it or not. That is to say, in spite of the fact that for biology the concept of human races has no meaning, it does have meaning for the social sciences .
Thus, expressing without complexes that racialized people exist (i.e. those who have historically been discriminated against on the basis of characteristics such as skin colour) is necessary in order to move towards the next steps in educating awareness of the condemnation of racism.
2. Teach why there are groups of people with different traits
Obviously, it is not possible to explain the intricacies of genetics to girls and very young children , but it is good to make it clear that those traits to which a racial interpretation is attributed are like any other physical trait, such as being taller or shorter, having more or less large teeth, etc.
This is important for them to understand that appearance tells us nothing about someone’s personality, interests, language, etc.
3. Explain that there are conflicting visions
It is useless to talk about racism to children as if there were no social problem linked to it. That is why we must prevent them by explaining that some people do believe that characteristics associated with race add or detract from people or even describe their way of thinking and feeling, and at the same time we must show them why they are wrong .
Fundamentally, the idea that needs to be defended is that anyone, regardless of how they look or whether they fit more or less with racial stereotypes, can be good or bad, shy or sociable, suspicious or warm, or in any other way in terms of their way of being and behaving. Racism does not arise from people’s bodies, but from situations of injustice that occurred long ago (slavery, conquest, etc.) and whose effects are still felt in many people’s beliefs.
It is true that racism does not only have a origin based on beliefs and that there are other material factors that feed it (for example, certain types of borders), but it is better to give up such complex explanations so that the main message is better understood.
It is also good to give examples of common arguments used by racist people to try to defend their attitude, so that they can recognize some of them in the future and, at that time, remember the explanation related to why that which is said is not true.
4. Do not link races to regions
It is important for children to be clear that territories do not have races, and races do not have territories . For example, a person with slanted eyes is not “Asian”, since many people in Asia do not have that characteristic and many people with that trait live outside of Asia.
But to help him understand that these traits are more common in certain areas, you can teach him some very basic notions about how life does not remain static, but changes over time (evolution) and space (migrations).