Let’s stop teaching our children unconscious bias

I recently read an article in the BBC News regarding Prince Harry’s interview with renowned ethologist Dr. Jane Goodall.  The article discussed Prince Harry and his warning to the people of unconscious bias and its connection to racism.  

We as parents may be teaching our children unconscious bias to others with those of different skin tone by not allowing our children to acknowledge the different skin colors. 

Our children are not color blind. 

What is unconscious bias? 

The BBC article states, “Unconscious bias is any detectable bias in our attitudes or behavior that operates outside of our awareness.”  I can certainly see how this may lead to racism. 

For example, you may choose an equally qualified white man over a woman for a job because subconsciously you think a man is more competent. 

Prejudice is taught by others, whether it be consciously or unconsciously.  We need to look deeply at ourselves and the things we say, do, and or think, which may be contributing to the racism of our culture.

Children aren’t born racist. 

As in my previous article when Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex, the hints and suggestions of racism arose. 

The tabloids began to shout comments like, “Straight Outta Compton” and “Duchess Difficult.” Even Oprah said Meghan was being treated unfairly.

For me, I was delighted to see a little color at the Buckingham Palace in London and Windsor.  I have twin bi-racial daughters and one of them cried as she said, “I hate the color of my skin and I will never be as beautiful as my sisters (who are white). I hate being different than everyone else.” I was completely taken back by her comments. 

So, I thought to myself, Meghan is now the Duchess of Sussex. Meghan is a true beauty. 

Will that make my daughter think differently? 

In the BBC News article Dr. Goodall reported, “[Children] don’t notice, ‘My skin’s white, mine’s black,’ until somebody tells them.” 

I disagree completely with that statement. 

Children are not color blind.  The problem arises when we subconsciously ask them to fill in the blanks by not allowing them to notice the different skin colors. Research supports this. 

You can hear more in my podcast with author Ashely Merryman of the New York Times #1 best-selling book, Nurture Shock

Let me tell you how this may happen. 

A parent is reading a children’s book. This is a picture in the story, which includes a yellow giraffe, a blue car and a black child.  We point to the giraffe and ask the child, “What color is the giraffe?”  We then ask, “What color is the car?”  We avoid asking, “What color is the child?”  When we don’t ask our child, “What color is the child?” our child will fill in the blank.

The child may think, “Why didn’t Mommy ask me what color the child is?” “Doesn’t she like the color of that child?” “Why wouldn’t she like that child?” The child thinks that the mother is very uncomfortable with talking about that child’s skin tone. 

As you can see without Mother talking about it, the child may fill in the rest of the story and may well be on his/her way of having an unconscious bias and a connection to racism. 

Research shows that the more we ignore talking about skin tone and racism, the more likely racism is to become an unconscious bias in our children.

A real-life example of this was when my white son told my bi-racial daughter, “I don’t even notice your skin color, I just like you,” my daughter broke out into a flood of tears.  Her comment was, “What’s wrong with my black skin color and why don’t you want to notice it.” 

This is a very serious problem.

Our children are not color blind.  Don’t let them fill in the blanks.

We need to tell the truth to our children. As parents, we must be part of the solution to end racism. 

Parents need to teach the children to notice the different skin tones of the world. 

We need to teach our children that black, white, yellow, brown, and all skin tones feel what we feel.  They have the same brain, the same emotions, and we all need love and inclusion.

Children are naturally drawn to others that look the same as they do. In my previous article on inclusion, I’ve already shared the results of the research study.

It showed that the children in one class were given two 2 different shirt colors to wear, which were blue and red. The children decided that those with the same shirt color were smarter and better than those with the opposite shirt color, which can easily bleed into thoughts and feelings about different skin tones.

The next time you are reading a book to your child, you need to ask your child, “What color is that little boy?” You then should tell your child, “That child is black.  And, he thinks, feels, and needs love just like you.” 

You let him know that you notice his skin tone is different than his, but that he is a human being just like him.

And, continue on to say, as humans, we never stop needing love.

Humans never stop needing validation.

And most of all, humans never stop needing inclusion. 

We need to acknowledge and point out all the skin colors of the world.

We all have the same needs and desires and the different skin tones of the world truly make the world a more beautiful place to live. 

Thank you, God. 

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