In the article posted through Huffington post on June 23rd 2015, the author, K. T. Sancken, speaks up about the issue of race and racism in relation with children of today’s society in her article entitled “What I Told My Children About Charleston.” Following the tragedy in Charleston, where a white man entered a church full of black people and murdered them all simply because of their “race”, Sancken decided to talk to her one and five year old daughters about this issue. Before this incident, she mentions that race was only a part of their conversation if the daughters themselves brought up the subject, and her responses weren’t very thoughtful or precise. She decided at that moment to inform her daughters about African-Americans awful past in America, slavery and civil rights, while showing that it is horrible, and that it shouldn’t happen again. K. T. Sancken concludes with the importance of speaking to her daughters following her research, where she learned that “everybody is equal” is not a good enough answer, because racist manners, categorizing of humans and having more of a white preference will still occur in children.
First of all, a slight weakness that I noticed in this article is when Sancken uses the term “race” as being real. However, our ‘’Myth of Race and Reality of Racism’’ class has taught us that race is socially constructed, and has been proven false in anthropology studies. I think that it’s a flaw in her article, but can remain acceptable, because people use this false word in society, which is why she employed it to talk to her daughters. On the other hand, a strength in her article, with which I agree, is the fact that she realised that she should take the initiative to talk to her daughters about “races” to stop further perpetuation of racism. She also realised that children do recognise that phenomenon and start categorizing at an early age, which corresponds with what we have seen in class, where there is a popular myth that children are color-blind, resulting in an impossibility of having racial prejudices. As described in the article “Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race” by Erin N. Winkler, it’s important to simply talk about it, in a meaningful, accurate and age-appropriate way. A strength in Sancken’s article is the fact that she realised her initial responses to her children’s questions (“everyone is equal”, “under the skin, we are all the same”) were not useful. She decided to give her children legitimate helpful explanations, such as the word “nigger”, being the most disgusting word in English language that should never be used. This remains, in my opinion, a strength in her story, because she was age-appropriate, but did not dilute the complexity of the issue, like many parents do. Furthermore, I believe that in Sancken’s and any other parent’s case, it is crucial to talk about the history of “race”, and make sure children understand that it is wrong and should not be repeated, as the author mentioned. More importantly, as class notes demonstrate, children’s brains are in major development and are prone to stereotypes, which is why an adult needs to shape their understanding of “race” and interpret racial categories to avoid negative outcomes. Lastly, I agree with the author’s point that if she didn’t, as a mother, talk to her children about this issue, they would make assumptions and separations, most likely favoring whiteness. As mentioned in class, children begin to see whiteness as the norm for standard appearance and can also experience in-group bias.