Nelson Mandela once said: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”.
And he is right. Racism is not some disease you are born with. It is something you learn along the way. No one wakes up one morning and decides to be a racist. The feeling of hatred is taught and cultivated subconsciously by your surroundings during childhood.
The role of parents
The word “surroundings” mostly refers to parents. Everything starts at home. A racist family can only raise racist children.
Child racism is not just some children making fun of someone who looks different to them. It should never be taken as a joke by parents or teachers. Little racists can cause severe emotional wounds or shock to their victims.
What children must learn is that being different makes our existence as human beings interesting. We do not live in a world where everybody looks alike. Tall, short, thin, fat, strong, weak, we are all human beings. Some children have blue eyes and some are blind. Some have dark skin and some have two-toned skin because of vitiligo. Some can run fast but some are born with disabilities. Some were born and raised in a healthy home and some were not that lucky. And the list goes on. We live in a world full of contradictions and diversity but we are all beautiful in our own, unique way.
Unfortunately, some parents either in their effort to protect their children or simply because they are racists themselves, pass their fears and ignorance down to their children. The latter learn to stay away from children with differences because they are not like them.
Accepting human diversity
Parents should let their children discover human diversity. Nothing will happen if they hang out with their dark-skinned classmate. Nicolas may be short but he is fast! Helen may be fat, but she is so funny! Chris may have never met his dad, but he has a strong mum! Children are not interested in each other’s past or the color of each other’s skin. They just want to play and have fun. Children just want to be children.
However, if they constantly hear their parents commenting on other families or children experiencing difficulties, they will subconsciously choose to avoid them or even make fun of them.
Foreigners come to our country with their families for a better life. They have every right to live a decent life among us – with us. Children are all the same, no matter how they look like or where they come from. They breathe the same air, they hurt the same way and they need love and safety regardless of their appearance and social status.
Different accent, habits and religion do not mean a thing. Everyone should be allowed to have their own beliefs. Religions should not separate people, they should bring them together. They is no such thing as the “perfect” child. Each one of them is unique and has its own talents and characteristics. Children can only love. Don’t fill their innocent minds with negative thoughts or fear.
Let children choose
Children cannot handle rejection. They are not ready for that. It’s a crime to destroy a child’s innocence and boyishness, because you are a racist or afraid of the unknown. You have no right to poison them.
So, the next time you’re about to convict human diversity in front of your child, think twice. Mind your words. Foreign, Muslim, black, fat or people with disabilities are as much entitled to love as you are. His daughter – yes the one on the wheelchair – hurts as much as your child does.
She has the exact same needs and feelings with your child. As a parent you should fill their hearts with love, not hatred.
Let them choose their own path. You have walked yours. It’s their time now.Help them understand and not reject diversity. And always remember that your child is as vulnerable to racism as other children.Would you let this happen to your child? Of course not! Then why would you let it happen to someone else’s child?