Teaching Racism

by Tiffanie Loiello on October 18, 2015 - 9:18pm

        Colton Valentine published an article in Huffington Post June 9th, 2015, titled, ‘How To Talk To Kids About Racism In America -- With A Picture Book’, which discusses how a picture book brings to attention the idea of racism to young children between the ages of 5 and 8. Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jamey Christoph, follows the life of Gordon Parks as he makes his way through Fort Scott, Kansas,  and to Washington, D.C., to express the idea of oppression in the United States. The author explains that this book’s illustrations were inspired by real locations that Christoph has seen throughout his visits to the various places he mentions in his books. The author goes on to mention a bit about the storyline, Park’s, the main character of the book, ends up in Harlem where he is a photographer for Vogue and Life magazine. Park’s most important piece was, “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.”, which replaces the classic couple holding farm tools with a black woman named Ella Watson, who is holding cleaning supplies. Valentine states that the photographer in the book managed to capture the struggles Watson has gone through most of her life and allows her to be heard. The author concludes by saying that this children’s book has already inspired several questions on the issue of racism among the young readers.

            According to Erin N. Winkler in the article ‘Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race’, children can differentiate between races and can develop racial prejudices by 30 months of age. Therefore, it is only logical to teach children about race and racism in a way they can comprehend and appreciate; a picture book is perfect. Children grow up in a world where racism is prominent in all areas of life so they should be sufficiently prepared to act upon any issue that may come up. As a white parent, you might not be able to educate your children on the problem of racism in the most effective way due to the lack of first-hand experience but this picture book might help in approaching this difficult topic of conversation.


             Valentine, C. (2015, June 9). How To Talk To Kids About Racism In America -- With A Picture Book. Retrieved October 16, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/09/gordon-parks-childrens-book_n_7...


To begin with, I chose to respond to this article summary since the two-words title immediately caught my eye and I wanted to learn more. However, it guided me into thinking that the article would be about racism being taught and transmitted as a set of attitudes, when in fact, the whole thing was in fact about informing and raising awareness to children about the issue that is racism. I totally support the ideas and arguments revealed in post, in the sense that teaching the history and impact of racism to children is the best way to spread awareness and prevent them from developing prejudice about other ethnicities. The issue of racism should not be avoided by parents raising a child… In fact, as mentioned by Erin N. Winkler in her article ‘‘Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race’’, refusing to engage discussion about race will only keep the stereotypes static and unaffected. By vulgarizing terms and presenting them in a way that is as effective and simple as a children’s book can actually make a significant change in their developing set of attitudes and behaviours. In the bigger picture, this simple step change has the power to make future generations’ society a little more equitable.

To start off, I chose to respond to your post because the title may have suggested to actually teach racism but instead it meant informing kids about racism which I believe is a must!
I believe that the article you chose was a good one. It touches on a very tricky subject, since it is so difficult for parents to talk to kids about racism. I also believe that it is parents who make the biggest difficulty out of it, because I believe that if parents would just take the time to sit down with kids and explain that unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world and show them the proper ways of dealing with racial problems in society, the world would slowly start to get better because people would be informed.
I do believe that kids should not be shown stereotypical story books and it is good that the author in your article created something that depicts the real world. do you think there is such a thing as a kid being too young and not mentally ready to understand?