White People Need to be Talking About Race, Too

by India Lewis

When it comes to discussions on race and white privilege, there are many instances where we as people become defensive, confused, and frazzled. It is possible to make these discussions much easier, if we start to engage the adults and kids in our families on the dynamics of race at a much earlier age.

In Black households, it is very common to talk about race and history as early as the age of 4, as African-Americans face a high degree of institutionalized racism, as a result of history. It is important for young Black children to gradually make sense of their experiences. In white families, the discussion of race is not as common, as it is not a stark part of their identity, being the majority group that holds most of the elite positions of power in the United States.

For this reason, it is not only important for Black and white families to talk about race from a young age regardless of race, but to also understand that learning about racism and it’s dynamics is not a game of blaming white counterparts, but rather understanding that this is a system put in place which is a bias that exists within everyone as a result of media, history repeating itself, and institutional discrimination.

Institutionalized racism occurs when social biases manifest themselves in the workplace, the criminal justice system, and everyday activities such as shopping, driving, and making new friends. Everyone including the underrepresented minority groups of color the United States can manifest biases towards these underrepresented groups, which often creates feelings of self hate in young Black children, as well as in other young Americans of color.

Beyond just Black and white, it is important for the conversation about race and ethnicity to exist in all households, including Asians, Native Americans and other Native Peoples, Middle Eastern-identifying folks, Latinx individuals, and multi-racial identifying people of various races.

In many cases non-Black people of color have a different approach towards discussing race within their household, because they do not have the history of being enslaved in the United States, nor the history of being removed to different territories, as Native Americans were. However, through discussions from an early age, the future generations will be able to break the stigma of discussions on race, to better understand history and reasons for existing biases, to fight against institutionalized racism in unity.

 

Hello! I am a 24 year old African-American girl from New Jersey. I am currently based in London, and will be starting a Ph.D. in the future. I have traveled to over 40 countries, and speak numerous languages. As a result of my exposure and my identity, I am very passionate about social justice issues, equality, and education. In terms of my hobbies, I have been a competitive figure skater since the age of 5, and I love making new friends from all over the world. In my life, I want to educate and recreate!

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