The Innocence of Children


Something came up at dinner last night.  One of the kiddo’s brought up racism.  Actually, I should say-one of the kiddo’s brought up mis-interpretation of racism.

Of my three boys and two step daughters, the two younger boys (5th and 6th grade) and youngest step daughter (5th grade) were at the table with us adults.  They all three attend elementary school but the boys go to a different school (separate school district too) than the girls.

One thing resonated with all three of them though.  Now, you have to understand that in our house intolerance is not acceptable.  I’ve never really had to “teach” that necessarily though because we have a wide range of people in our life.  Children who have intolerance in them are taught intolerance.  You do not have to teach tolerance unless outside influences affect your children.  

That being said, one thing resonated with all three children.  They were very upset that the mere description of another person by racial characteristics labels an individual as “racist”.  I asked for examples and can assure you that the innocence of a child is all that existed.  They used descriptions the same as they would describe me as the pale Irish lady with freckles.

My step daughter was visibly outraged by the comments she gave as examples.  Heck, she’s part native american and certainly has darker skin than myself and my Irish sons.  But all three of them have experienced the same, either through personal interaction or by witnessing a situation with others.

My advice to them, if ever in that type of situation and especially because I know that they are not intolerant, was to bring humor to the situation.  I told my boys that they could say something simple making fun of their skin tone-referencing our inability to tan/freckles/etc.  I’m curious what others think.  We have become so hyper-sensitive as a nation that innocent children without an ounce of hate in their bones have to deal with an imaginary racism that does not exist.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  Have you had to experience this issue and if so, in children so young?


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