Yesterday, I talked about how John Derbyshire’s “advice” to White parents on what to say to their kids about black people was the right idea with the wrong messenger. You can see my column here.
And while Derbyshire’s racist suggestions got him fired from the National Review it doesn’t mean that most White parents out there are doing a particularly good job to talking to thier kids about race.
So, I know you’ve all been waiting patiently to see … drum roll please:
The Talk for White Parents to their White Kids about Black People
In this day and age of Black presidents, a Black First Lady that still makes a White man’s head explode and George Zimmerman killing a defenseless Trayvon Martin in cold blood, you’ll need it. It will come in handy White people, so read carefully. Don’t just open for emergencies, depending on what’s an emergency to you. But, this should work for:
1) The first time your kid asks why there’s a Black history month
2) The first time they come to you asking about the word “nigger;” and
3) Just about any other time you’re stumped by a Black/White race issue and don’t know what to say.
Dear White son or daughter [INSERT NAME HERE], here’s what you need to know:
1) Black People and White people are different but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. Black people look different, often eat different foods, communicate and socialize in ways that may seem strange or odd for you. But just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s bad, or that the way you do things is better. Always remember that.
2) If you don’t know something about Black people ask a lot of them. Your Black friends don’t speak for all Black people. It’s perfectly okay to not know something, because honestly unless you ask every Black person in America you really don’t know. Do you?
3) White People as a group have done terrible things to Blacks in this country – and just because they are black (not to mention Asians, Latinos, and American Indians). This is a fact. You may not be personally responsible but you benefit from this fact and therefore have some responsibility. No: you never enslaved anybody, neither did your mother or I, but lots of white people did. Once slavery was over, White people spent about 100 years mistreating Blacks because they couldn’t figure out how to send them all home after that whole nation-building thing. This means that Black people used to get killed just for trying to vote, weren’t allowed to live where they wanted to, and even today some White people refuse to hire Blacks just because they are black. And while those types of things are illegal, people still do it. You benefit from this. So before you ever judge a Black person remember that other White people worked for centuries to make sure you’d be okay and Black people would stay poor.
4) Saying “nigger” is the same thing as saying “bitch.” Even though you may hear it in music, or with your friends at school you know perfectly well that you shouldn’t use that word regardless of who is in earshot. And really, why is it so important to use it anyway?
5) Always remember there is a difference between a Black neighborhood, a bad neighborhood, and a poor neighborhood. Just because an area has lots of Black people doesn’t mean they’re poor or that there’s lots of crime. There are plenty of places where black people live that are nicer than our neighborhood. You should avoid any group of people that seem dangerous because of their behavior or activities, whether that’s in a trailer park or an inner-city ghetto. You can get robbed by anybody.
6) No matter who your sister/brother has dated, or what your friends have told you, or how many episodes of Chappelle Show you’ve watched you do not KNOW Black people. Who or what you listen to, read, or sleep with does not make you Black. Acting like you know everything about Black people because you have some Black friends or enjoy rap music is ignorant.
7) Black people are not pets, so don’t touch them without permission, or change your voice when you’re around them, or worse: automatically try to set them up with any Black person you know. This never works out. If you’re curious about their hair just ask, you’d be amazed at some of the stuff Black folks hear all day.
8) And finally: the best way to get along with Black people is to not be oblivious. Nothing annoys Black people more than White people who pretend racism doesn’t exist and then proclaim ignorance in the face of overwhelming evidence. Just because you don’t see it, or don’t want to see it, doesn’t mean Black people are paranoid or making things up. If you think about lesson 3 you should be good at this.
I know this talk has made you uncomfortable, but your mother/father and I believe that it’s better for you to hear this at home than learning about it on the streets or from your friends. Now go out to the park and make some Black friends! But just promise me you won’t cut through those trailer parks. I heard those people are all single moms and sell crystal meth.