A couple months ago, flush with excitement about my new editing gig at Anti-Racist Parent, I visited the kids section at my local Barnes & Noble store. There is nothing I love more than a new book with crisp pages and an uncracked spine. Sometimes I like the idea of a new book–and the promise of learning something new–better than reading the book itself. It takes little to convince me that I need to drop a stack of cash on books. But I digress…(Sorry. Books are my vice.) This particular afternoon, I was going to load up on books that teach and celebrate diversity for my nieces and nephews and for reviews on ARP. But after 20 minutes, my basket was still empty.
I asked an associate for help: “I’m looking for good books for kids that discuss race, diversity, equality…that sort of thing.” After staring at me dumbfounded for what felt like a minute, she finally produced three books–THREE. There were books about horses…books on how to make magic…books on decorative nail polish application….books about sports, but there among the hundreds of books in the children’s niche at a major book retailer, only three gave even lip service to the idea of racial equality.
I think about this experience often as I search for content for ARP. My various Google alerts about race and families and parenting rarely turn up anything good. There are a lot of bloggers talking about race, but few talking about race as it relates to children, parenting and families. (Lucky for us, many of the few lend their voices here and they are amazing.) And while ARP’s various resource threads prove that there are some exceptional anti-racist parenting tools around, it is clear to me that there are not enough–not nearly enough.
The problem, I think, is that racism today is more covert than overt, more ingrained than in-your-face, more about bias than hatred. But we don’t talk about this sort of prejudice with children. Is it any wonder that Barack Obama’s presidential run has illuminated bigotry that the general populace seemed to think was a thing of the past? If we’re not talking to children about race, what makes us expect to ever see the end of inequality?