Dare to Ask: How can parent put stop to child's misguided racial
I've always taught my 4-year-old son that people are people, regardless of
skin color. His father isn't the most tolerant person, but he's never taught my
son anything to the contrary. So it surprised me in the supermarket when my son
pointed at a black man and told me to not go near because "they are the enemy."
What should I do?
Amanda, 21, white, Louisville, Ky.
By keeping him under your wing and teaching him proper ethics and morals, he
will be OK. Praise and love him and be there for him. The same ethics and morals
that got you where you are should be the same for him.
Bruce, 49, white, Newark, N.J.
Ask him who told him that, because someone did. Let's hope it's not his
father, since then you'll have a difficult time limiting his exposure to such
CWayne, Parsippany, N.J.
Someone is teaching him these things. A 4-year-old doesn't spontaneously
decide blacks are the "enemy" on his own. If it's not [the parents], look at
relatives, and/or neighbors and neighbors' kids. Oh, and making a huge deal of
it will only encourage him to do it more.
A.L., 40, white female, Missouri
Black comedian Lavell Crawford took time out from being the enemy to speak to
us about his menacing ways.
"I'm in a grocery store, say in a small city in Kentucky or Ohio, and being a
big black guy, little white kids look at me like 'What in the hell is he doing?
What is he doing in our store?' You can tell they haven't been around too many
brothers," said Crawford, a "Last Comic Standing" contestant who will perform
Thursday-Saturday at The Comedy Zone in Mandarin.
Crawford says it's usually outside influences - a parent or grandparent -
that cause the fear.
"Grandma may make some great brownies, but she may not like black people."
He gets the "full of woe" stare on elevators, too.
"White women, they try to get off, but the door shuts too fast. They look at
me like, 'Oh I guess we're all in this together now.' I want to tell them:
'Yeah, I'm just as scared as you are. And I wish I would have gotten off, too,
because I did [pass gas] when I got on. Enjoy."
A good solution for kids? Don't just pull them aside and tell them what they
said was wrong, Crawford suggested. Show them by example. Acclimate them by
putting them in situations with people of different ethnic and racial
"I had to learn, too. After watching 'Roots' on TV, I was scared of white
folks. I mean, Lord, they cut our feet off," he said. "Then I went to an
all-white school, and this white friend Keith invited me to his house. And they
were real sweet people."
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