Sarah Simpson column: Talking to the kids about racism

Sarah Simpson column: Talking to the kids about racism

it gave rise to a great discussion in the car on the way to and from the event.

I brought my children with me when I covered the Black Lives Matter rally at Charles Hoey Park on Friday. I hadn’t intended to, due to COVID, and knowing a lot of people would be there, but my husband was needed elsewhere so the kids had to come with me.

I’m lucky that there are parts of my job that I can bring my children to. What’s more, it’s a cause that they need to learn about. They need to grow up learning how poorly black people, in this case, and Indigenous people in Canada, have been treated throughout history up to, and including today. They need to know this is not OK and they need to understand that it is up to all of us, them included, to change that.

If anything, it gave rise to a great discussion in the car on the way to and from the event. I tried to be as honest as I could, keeping in mind my kids are four and five.

Over the weekend my son got into a fight with his neighbour friend — the only friend inside his bubble — and when they can’t play together it’s a bummer for everyone.

The fight escalated until both kids were not just being unkind to each other, but to their siblings and to their moms.

My neighbour and I separated the screaming, flailing children and, as I began to walk home with my son, he said the following:

“[Friend] is black.”

He’s not wrong.

“What does that have to do with anything?” I asked. Truthfully, I was thrown off a bit. On the heels of the rally, we’d talked at great length about what has been going on with the world and about the fact [Friend] was mixed race and how lots of people we know have different skin colours, but that shouldn’t matter; we are all humans.

It’s hard to explain to a five-year-old but I was doing my best.

“Actually, she’s more kind of brown,” he continued.

“What the heck, man!” I said. “It makes no difference!”

Then he told me he that he was feeling red (angry) but starting to calm down and feel a little blue (tired, sick, hurt, sad).

I stopped.

My son wasn’t talking about race at all. Here I was, worried that I was going to have to change my approach insofar as raising my kids to be good humans and mindful of our privilege and of issues of race, and he was telling me about his feelings. He was talking about the colour system they use at school when learning about the zones of regulation and how to explain their emotions.

Now, black and brown aren’t part of the four zones but he told me he made them up to express being “super angry” and such.

As we continued to walk home he said, “I’m not mad at [Friend] because [Friend] is black. I don’t care what colour [Friend] is.”

I talked to my neighbour about it as it’s an issue she faces both being the mother of mixed-race children and through her work.

“Taking time to talk with our own children or with others without passing judgment can help us gain valuable insight into how others view the world,” she said.

She noted that instead of me being quick to assume the topic needed to be discussed more with my child, simply through listening I discovered that he wasn’t worried about the colour of his friend’s skin but more that everyone deserves to have the freedom to be treated with respect and to not have others be unkind to them.

There’s a lesson there. For all of us.

“Kids see things often simply,” my neighbour continued. “No matter what age or colour of skin you may have, everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ColumnistComedy and Humour

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering courses in drawing May through August 2021. (Submitted)
A&E column: Art is everywhere in the Cowichan Valley

What’s going in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies, a tool that chairman Aaron Stone says will improve communications. (File photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

FILE PHOTO
Editorial: Time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in

They’re just not quite sure they want to get a vaccine — yet

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

Most Read