OPINION | Tackling generational racism means more listening, and fewer excuses

This might make you uncomfortable, but this isn't about your feelings, it's about creating a better world for everyone.
This might make you uncomfortable, but this isn't about your feelings, it's about creating a better world for everyone.

Parent24 is inviting families to share their experiences of racism. If you'd like us to publish your story, mail us at chatback @ parent24.com. We accept anonymous contributions.

Here we share a reader's thoughts on this troubling topic.

The murder of George Floyd in the US and the exposure of racism in local schools prove that we all need to work much harder to rid the world of racism.

It's clearly not going to die out with the last of the old uncles that still refer to Zimbabwe as Rhodesia, or the aunties who reminisce about the good old days.

So how can we as parents ensure we don't perpetuate the cycle? How do we ensure we don't raise future racists?

Of course, your knee-jerk reaction is "Not MY child!"

Your child would never make a racist remark, never intentionally use race as a weapon, never use their privilege to step ahead of others?

Don't be so sure.

Despite our best intentions to raise our kids not to be racist, it's not enough – we need to be actively anti-racist.

We have to actively embrace and celebrate diversity. Don't use terms like "I don't see colour". That does more harm than good.

Recognition and acknowledgment of race is crucial to addressing our society's inequalities. Don't be colourblind. Let's celebrate this rainbow instead.

Our children know when our response is tepid, or guarded or insincere. They watch and they learn from us. As their role models, we need to lead with conviction and show them the way the world should be.

This might make you uncomfortable, but this isn't about your feelings, it's about creating a better world for everyone.

Easier said than done, yes.

And those old embarrassing relatives who make us cringe internally when they post "All lives matter" on Facebook?

It's not enough to hide their posts. It's not enough to wince and think that soon they'll be too old to spread their backward beliefs online.

We have to call them out. We have to engage them. We have to try to show them why they are hurting people.

But then remember, it's not about you.

It's about the experiences of black people who move through the same world you do, but who have a very different experience of it.

So reach out, engage in conversation, sure, but most importantly: Listen.

Listen with an open mind. Don't try to explain, rationalise or excuse. This might be hard, but if you just listen you will learn so much.

Then sit with what you have heard. Process the feelings. Then vow to never make anyone feel like that ever again.

And then, when you're truly ready, teach your children.

- Anonymous

Would you like to contribute to the conversation? 

Chat back:

Share your story with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @ parent24.com.

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