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02:31 PM on 08/20/2013
And when people tell their kids to be "color blind" or that they themselves don't see color, then I assume that when they look at people they just see blood, and bones!

And the message is that there is something wrong with differences of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation etc. and the the "good" way is for everyone to be the same which means whatever "we" are.

I often hear this silliness in my work as a diversity management strategist. In really simple terms, If we are supposed to treat everyone the same, (whatever that means,) do we buy everyone the same birthday present?
08:17 AM on 08/21/2013
Yes! Thanks for bringing up the ridiculous "same as me = possible to respect" idea.

As Mia from Black Girl Dangerous says, "Being different is not the problem. The idea that being the same as you is what gives us the right to exist is the problem." Amen to that.
02:10 PM on 08/20/2013
Due to our situation, we've had many conversions on the topic. But as for imagining the one the Latino parent had with their children, I don't have to. It didn't occur.
Their "Latino" father was too busy working to care much about the story, too busy teaching them useful skills and getting them to help out around the house, too busy making sure there are doing well in school, and too busy cleaning up our neighborhood graffiti. The only conversation remotely related that they have ever had, is my husband talking about how he hates hoodies because his students wear them to cover up their headphones instead of paying attention. My kids didn't wear them long before Treyvon.

The kids and I did talk about it. The fact is we weren't there, we don't know what actually happened or why. Did George Zimmerman feel he was white? a Hispanic? a minority? racist? subjected racism? I don't know. It turned it into a racism issue, it should have focused on whether or not their actions were appropriate for the situation.

The author too weakens her point about the importance of having real conversions about looks and racism by focusing on one incident and assuming blacks and Latinos had those types talks while whites didn't. If anything that sounds like prejudice and racism to me. It is much more meaningful to share personal experiences and than to focus on a media story and that's what we do in our house
08:27 AM on 08/21/2013
You kind of shot yourself in the foot, here. On the one hand, you say that the trial wasn't about racism, and in your other comment you talk about how race doesn't mean anything. On the other hand, your language shows something really interesting:

George Zimmerman gets a last name, while Trayvon (Martin) does not.
George Zimmerman gets his name spelled correctly, while "Treyvon" does not.

You may not realize it, but the way we use language says more than just our conscious ideas. It seems as though your language is telling us that George Zimmerman is more worthy of being well-familiarized with, while extending the same courtesy to Trayvon Martin is just gravy. If that's the case, I like gravy with everything, please, including dessert.
02:07 PM on 08/20/2013
I'm not sure young children truly do focus on race, They may notice difference in hair or skin color but not necessarily equate that with being one "race" or another. As a very light skinned, almost white blonde child growing up in a small Midwestern town most kids, even "white" ones were darker than me and it wasn't until it was pointed out that I realized some of my friends were other ethnicities. Despite envying a friend's shiny black hair and being in a Spanish class her mom taught, I never realized she was Hispanic until they moved back to Texas at the end of third grade. Another friend was a Native American and we only thought about because she talked about it.

I also think we need to be very careful in equating skin color with race and even ethnicity. Even within a specific group there may be people of all different colors. As someone of Scandinavian ancestry, married to a Mexican with Spanish, Native American (Southwest US) and unknown ancestry, I have children of varying looks (from tan skin, brown hair and eyes to very fair skin, white blonde hair and blue eyes). Is one Hispanic? Native American? while another white? As their complexions change as they age, does the Hispanic one become white? is the once white, blonde one now Hispanic as his hair darkens? Is the youngest one Asian because Asians ask what his father is and then still insist he MUST be part Asian?
02:00 PM on 08/20/2013
Great article. I'm a white parent of mixed race kids. Race is often a topic in our house, especially since my kids look so different from their white cousins. In our home the notion of "we're all the same underneath our skin" doesn't exist. We not only embrace the difference of skin color, but also the history and culture of what makes the kids who they are.
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How can I miss you if you don't go away
12:20 PM on 08/20/2013
A friend of thirty five years moved to Arizona from California 10 years ago and became more and more racially intolerant. In the meantime I married a black man (I'm white) and I've become more aware of racial intolerance. In 2008 and 2012 my friend forwarded political email with insensitive material regarding the President's race and I asked him to stop sending it to me. He would come to Colorado on business trips and ask to meet up for dinners and I dreaded them because of the turn our conversations would take. He would say "It's okay to be gay just don't be gay in front of me", or "the f___ Mexicans have taken over Arizona and Arpaio is doing the right thing". The last time we communicated was when he joked that he was going to go shoot some "cans". It was right after the Treyvon Martin murder. I told him I could no long tolerate his hate and intolerance and our friendship was terminated. He never recognized the racism in his own behavior. I bet even today, after losing a long standing friendship, he would never admit it.
11:21 PM on 08/20/2013
Thank you for sharing this. I ended a long-term friendship last year over just such a friend. Despite having together participated in numerous social justice protests in college (a few years ago), my friend began espousing...shall we say "somewhat incompatible" views once she started dating a rather conservative young Catholic man. We had it out at last when she shared a cell phone picture of a line of "Dreamers" lined up in Chicago for the opportunity to gain reprieve from deportation. She shared the image with a caption indicating that they were freeloaders, lining up for handouts to be taken from hardworking "real" Americans. I couldn't believe that my dear friend had said something so obviously vile and untrue, and especially since she had met some of my own undocumented friends. She wouldn't admit there was anything at all xenophobic in her words. So I let go of a friend.
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How can I miss you if you don't go away
05:44 PM on 08/21/2013
I think we're both better off for taking a stand. My ex friend had become so toxic I don't miss him at all. Good for you.
11:44 AM on 08/20/2013
My kids are young and I do not talk about race aside from telling them that some people are black and some white etc.

They play with black, Asian and hispanic kids from time to time and dont seem to notice color.
01:48 PM on 08/20/2013
You're exactly the kind of parent he's talking about.
06:46 PM on 08/20/2013
Are you kidding? This is EXACTLY the point the author is trying to make.
11:37 AM on 08/20/2013
The whole notion of "race" is absurd, anyway.

Based on DNA analysis, I am 60% European (but various kinds), 10% South Asian, 6% East Asian/Native American, 4% Middle Eastern/North African, 0.3% Sub-Saharan African. Another 18% they don't know yet.

So. Which "race" am I?

And my daughter will be some some random mix of half of that, plus more East Asian which is -who knows what-. It's all meaningless. It doesn't MEAN anything.

If people are inconsistent about this, we ARE teaching inconsistent values. I mean, just look at what message they're getting. White people are racist. Blacks cannot be racist. To criticize Obama's policies is racist. To question why a black subculture slaughters itself at 3rd-world levels is racist. To note that Asians do well in school even though they are a minority is racist. The left's absurdities about race is the cause of this cognitive dissonance.

It's you leftists that are the racists. You are so fracking guilty about the color of your own skin and tie yourselves up in intellectual knots over it. Knots like this article.
06:32 PM on 08/20/2013
So much of what you said is absurd.

If you don't know what race you are, ask your parents. How were you raised? What do you look like? What do you identify as?

It may not MEAN anything to you, but it means a lot to everyone else in this society, and that is why it matters. Until everyone decides it doesn't MEAN anything, it MEANS something.

All of this paragraph is just silly.
07:22 PM on 08/20/2013
Ha ha, that's hilarious. So what you're saying is that it's a nonsense concept that bears no relation to objective reality but is just "what someone else tells you it means".

Thanks for proving my point that the concept of "race" is nonsense.
09:50 AM on 08/21/2013
" Until everyone decides it doesn't MEAN anything, it MEANS something."

But you think it's wrong for anyone to try to hasten this post-racial future by acknowledging now that race means little to their sense of identity (or judgment of others).

I don't know who's right here, but I find this interesting.
11:18 AM on 08/20/2013
Thanks you! Thank you!

I've been wondering where this was. Seems like every time a young black man is murdered or any form of racism occurs on the national scene, we are all swamped with stories about how to teach black children to live....they know. It's white children, because of white parents that remain ignorant of racism in our society.
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10:37 AM on 08/20/2013
outstanding article and assignment!
Ivan B Cohen
09:53 AM on 08/20/2013
I attended a paraochial school with a predominately black student body however our teachers were white Catholic nuns. To us they were Sister Mary John Francis, pastor was Father Begley, whom we addressed as Father. This was what some today would say was elementary and middle school. We were cognizant of their skin color. Only when I approached adulthood did race start being a factor. When I reflect back on those times, white people were prevalent in the media (i.e. television) and other facets of society. Seems like my racial group (black) always needed intercessors to vouch for them. I remember the article Frank Sinatra had in Ebony magazine which in essence said these black people, they're alright. In the last century such gestures were okay, they might be looked down on now, conservatives and liberals tend to treat black people like wishbones today, tugging them in every direction. Someone or something is bound to break.
09:35 AM on 08/20/2013
My friend introduced me to a new phrase that I think is wonderful. Instead of referring to people of color as "minorities" they could be referred to as "the global majority". Shifts the perspective a lot, doesn't it?

Also, this article makes me think of Stephen Colbert and how he "doesn't see skin color". "People tell me I'm white, and I believe them because police officers call me 'Sir'." The ridiculousness of his shtick is so funny because of the truth behind it. People saying they are "color blind". As if that's even an option!
08:46 AM on 08/20/2013
I'm sitting in a dermatologist's waiting room thinking about skin color and how cultural pressure has led me here. I'm very fair with freckles. I experienced a lot of conversation about my skin color (or rather, its lack). Because I accepted the cultural assumption that tan=beauty, I did a lot of damage to my skin be allowing it to burn repeatedly in my attempt to achieve a tan. I am now paying the price. I heard "you need more tan" "you're rather white, aren't you?" "you didn't go to Mexico, where's your tan?" These comments are rude and out of line, as are any disparaging comments about a person's appearance. I'm not in any way contradicting the article, just showing that we have a really bad relationship with skin color.
02:13 PM on 08/20/2013
Your comment is by far the most supportive addition to this article. Many others who have posted comments below have used them as a forum to rant about race and culture. I think the article already did a fine job going into that and for one to spend a lot time trying to contradict or support it with inflammatory language seems redundant. If they are getting "worked up over it", then it proves the point that skin color is still very much an obsession for them as well.

The reason why your comment is special is because it manages to point out people's obsession with skin color, from a white perspective, without seeming redundant nor alienating anyone in the process.
07:57 AM on 08/20/2013
I love the fact that when my caucasian son went to a Chinese school, he was teased for his freckles, while his younger brother was adored for his blond hair. Confusing the mix (and their school friends) was their Chinese adopted baby sister - who both boys were proud to introduce (nonchalantly) as their sister. Leaving Asia and moving to Europe - where the boys look pretty much like their school buddies, but somehow are not the same - has been a more challenging experience than their years in Asia. I think that with kids - you can teach them, mix them, and challenge them about the concept of one people .... but better still go for giving them an appreciation of differentness - and how learning about different cultures, races and religions can expand the way you create your own life.
06:29 PM on 08/20/2013
Wait, maybe am missing something, but why do you love that your son was teased for his freckles and your other son was adored for his blond hair?
01:40 AM on 08/21/2013
That was perhaps a confusing comment. What I love is that the experience taught my kids that everyone is different in whatever large (eg race) or small way (eg freckles) way - but these differences are only superficial... and the fodder of teasing as children, and discrimination as adults. It also raised an awareness in my eldest child - of the uncomfortable experience of being a minority - and hopefully made him more sensitive to not repeating this experience when he is one of the majority.
06:21 AM on 08/20/2013
Working in Africa for the last several years, I was walking on the beach with a local fellow, a business associate, and commented that I wished so often that I was black. Sometime I was treated differently just because I'm white, and it got in the way of getting things done. If I remember correctly, he laughed so hard he fell down in the sand. When he finally got his breath, he said he'd so often wished he was white for the same reason. We staggered (sober) laughing down the beach with our arms across each others shoulders; it was a memorable moment. Seeing the difference and actually crossing the line are two different things.
05:50 AM on 08/20/2013
My grandmother was in the Orange Lodge and my mother once told me not to use a public drinking fountain because "an Irishman might have used it" :o