Should we be raising more racially aware kids
Heart matters

Should we be raising more racially aware kids?

You may or may not be familiar with the story of a school in the North West, that left parents fuming after a picture circulated showing that the black learners were sitting separately from the white learners in the class.

A mother of one of the black grade R learners, from Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke, reported a case of racism, after she had received a pic in the class’s Whatsapp group, showing the obvious separation between the black and white children.

The teacher had explained to one of the black parents (upon drop off) that she was planning to rotate them during the course of the day, since they were still easing into this whole “big school” thing. (You’ll find a link to the video of the parent explaining this here.) During the course of the day other pics were sent to the Whatsapp group showing how this rotation happened.

Social media was ablaze with people sharing their thoughts and opinions on this disgusting event. The Department of Education got involved, the teacher was suspended and I believe the Principals job is on the line too. I mean, rightly so… right? This is obvious racism, right?

But, Pam, I’ve got questions.

And it has a lot more to do with my parenting and a lot less to do with whether or not the teacher was racist. Hear me out:

Should we be forcing our children to have friends from different races?

The teacher assumed that kids naturally gravitate towards what is familiar to them, especially in a new setting. The “familiar” in this case is skin color and language. I kinda get it, because I’ve had colored friends who attended “mixed race” schools but found themselves hanging out with other colored kids on their first day at school. So if the teacher is right, are we saying that our children are racist, because they naturally gravitate towards someone who reminds them of themselves? Is this something we should be addressing?

Or do you find that your children does not see color? Should we be working towards a South Africa where our children don’t see color, or where our kids are mindful and respectful of each persons cultural differences?

Parents, do you actively ensure that your young child has friends from all race groups? Is this something we should be taking more seriously? I mean, come on, we want to raise kind, smart and well adjusted little South Africans, who are free of this negative spirit of Apartheid. But I’m wondering if we should be forcing our kids to be friends with Sipho AND Johan just because we want them to appear to be racially inclusive. Or would that be harmful?

Should we even be making our children aware of things like skin color, or do we want them to remain innocent to the whole race debacle?

I can’t guarantee you that my four year old is going to enter a new classroom, on her first day at “big school”, and pick a seat in between a white child and an Indian child, you know, just to make sure that there is enough racial representation around her.

I wasn’t there (and neither were you) so we don’t know if the teacher was being racist. (i.e. Racist: a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.)

But I do know that the treacherous era of Apartheid broken us so much that we shouldn’t even be toying around with concepts like “segregation” and “exclusion”. And we definitely should not be crying “racist” so easily, especially if we don’t have all the facts. And especially not if its’a teaching moment for our kids!

I’m not saying don’t call the obvious racism out… heck no, Hector, you definitely need to! Our country depends on it! But because of our people’s difficult past, using the word “racist” is such a big deal now. It kinda makes us point fingers at each other again.

And when it comes to the way we raise our kids, you guys, we play a big role in the future of our country and how inclusive it will be. So this is where you come in, Mom. I want to know if you think that we should be raising kids who are color blind or should we be making our children aware that we are all different colors, but we’re the same inside. (Was that a bit gross? Hahaha)

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please do drop me a comment below.

Disclaimer: Comments will be mildly moderated, you know, just in case. 

EDITED: I’ve changed some of the info I shared about the case, on the 18/1/2019, after someone pointed out that my information was incorrect.

7 Comments

  • Simone V

    Wow. This was brilliantly written, Luchae. We’re so quick to judge and call racism whenever it doesn’t look like we’re expecting it to. But throwing it back and asking what our expectations are first, then having a second look, might just change the whole picture.

  • Léanie

    My cousin are a biracial kid and when he was 5 years old. He already known that we are white and he saw his mother as peach and he’s father are dark brown. In school he played with kids that was brown like him and only when there wasnt any kids that had the same skin tone as him did he play with white kids. Kids know the difference between white and brown. They aren’t stupid. This whole story are nothing than a political story.

    You are naturally drawn to what are familiar and comfortable to you. Even me as an adult I have friends of different cultures etc, but i’m more drawn to people that are white. When I was in Grade 1 we only had 2 coloured kids in our class and there wasnt such a hype about racism as today.

    I feel so sorry for the teacher that she had to go through this whole ‘saga’! I was a teacher and I can tell you being a teacher today feels at some stage like a walk in the Jurassic Park.

  • Naively Colourblind

    I’m the minority here i guess. For me : under no circumstances should children be purposefully segregated based on the colour of their skin. I feel sorry for how it blew out of proportion yes, but I’m a little taken back that we are ok with the fact that she seated to them with kids who are more ‘alike’ so they can be ‘comfortable’. Be it temporary, be it because she was misguided about that makes a great first day of school .. for me, it’s a no. Maybe i have naively chosen to raise my kids colour blind , because Gods honest truth my son and his friends don’t seem to see colour as something that differs them from each other. .. and i love it. Through their eyes i get a glimpse into future SA … But not if on day one of grade R we’re reminding them what the first thing we see is.

    • Luchae

      Here’s the thing though, she didn’t separate them. They naturally gravitated towards each other and she explained to the parent that she’s that and she is going to change the seating once they are comfortable. In my personal opinion, the mother who cried racism did more damage to those kids first day of school experience, than the teacher that allowed them to settle in.

      • mandy

        Lu .. have you watched the video in which the parent calmly explains that she seats them that way for their comfort ? Because being with more ‘alike’ kids is easier in the beginning. She explained this after he enquired .. and said she’ll change the seating later. .

        Colourblind is not meant to say i don’t see colour .. It’s meant to say i dont see it as a hindrence to who i sit with.

        You should see the thread . Me saying nobody gotta make my kid comfortable by seating him according to his skin tone and a hundred moms saying for the kids comfort its ok to seat them like that out of consideration.

        I’ll send you the link ..

        • Luchae

          For me as a parent, I’m wondering what I can do to make my child more comfortable to sit next to whoever they want to. I also read that their was also a language barrier. I’m just praying for wisdom and that this thing will produce POSITIVE results, instead of more South Africans, slamming each other on Facebook because of it.

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