Racism or Ignorance?

May 13, 2015


This morning one of my kids pointed to one of her friends in the school yard and said, “That’s my friend ____. She says that I’m her favorite WHITE friend.” The girl that she pointed to is a young black girl. She told me that she is really nice and they’re ‘friends in good standing’ (my words, not hers as hers are very colourful and difficult to remember perfectly).

Moments later the 3 of us (both my kids & I) are having a discussion about racism because they tell me that –at their school– it is OK for non-whites to talk about racism all the time at school, and to call people by their race, whereas whites cannot say a word about race without being called a racist.

Important points: This does not mean that the bulk of the dialogue they’re involved in at school is race-based. Also, in our town whites are the minority – Canada is diverse like that.

She doesn’t like being called the “white friend” because she can clearly see that is a racial comment, but she can’t say anything about it because she is then accused of being racist. They’ve told me on numerous occasions that a few of the black kids will respond to even the most innocuous and non-race-based speech with, “that’s racist!” and “you’re just saying that because you’re racist!

I think that there is something to be said for poor anti-racism education, because these scenarios sprang up around the same time that school brought ‘taught’ these topics.

The other kid in the car –the one who is tough as nails on the outside– asked why there even is a BLACK history month. She has no frame of reference to compare that idea to, so in her mind there is no balance. There is no any-other-history month so she can’t see why blacks get one. Does that not reinforce the importance of unbiased education?


My advice to them was this:

Don’t let anyone call you anything based on your race, tell them that you don’t like it and no one should be labelled by their race.

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