Are Children Racists – Taught

Last weekend while doing his nightly flip through all TV channels” routine, my husband decided to stop on MTV just to see the reaction of our children. Not too surprisingly, they were quite intrigued by the style of dance and dress on the music video. We observed their processing of this kind of information and realized its newness to them.
Our children have been taught to identify classical music from inside the womb and now at ages 5 and 3 are able to identify the differences between Minuet by Bach’ and Minuet by Beethoven’. What made this little experiment of my husband’s so interesting, is that we are a black family and stereotypically our children should know all about rap music and MTV.
However, I have a philosophy and I see it portrayed every time we introduce them to something new. You see, children are born like blank computers and we get the opportunity to load the programs. Now, that is a serious and very important job. As parents, grandparents, teachers and relatives, we must be very careful. It is not always what we say to our kids that teach them how to react to people. It is mostly how we ourselves react to others around us.
My 5 year old daughter will make the strangest comments before I realize that she is taking her cues from my behavior and not always from my words. Children are taught how to love and they are taught how to hate. How do they really learn how to love? They see us extend our love to others. So, how do you think they learn to be racists? A child will sometimes approach another child from a different ethnic group and call him or her a derogatory name. In most cases, the child saying this has no idea what it means; they are simply repeating what they have heard from other people in their lives. The reaction of others around them will teach and influence future behavior.
Children do not learn what we do not teach them. To suggest that racism is learned is to take the blame from the ones who are teaching this insidious behavior and placing it on the innocent.
Even as adults, some of us still tend to be malleable and can easily switch beliefs, so we can still be taught to be racists. Luckily, as adults we have more choices and are able to decide on the right things to do in life.
Adults must take responsibility for what children are taught and never forget that one day; the ones we despise may be the doctors to save our lives or the persons at the front desk at the social security office. The bottom line is, we just never know!