How to deal with race issues at school?

Emma - posted on 06/01/2011 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My son is half british and half burmese. He has the most beautiful tanned skin and is a very sociable, friendly and inquisitive child. I have always been very open with him about race and said that everyone should be treated the same regardless of skin colour, religion, etc...
A few days ago he came home from school and asked me why daddy has black skin (he actually has asian skin). I explained that he comes from Burma and ppl their have brown skin, like ppl from africa might have black skin and ppl from europe might have white skin, etc.. I explained again as I always do that everyone should be treated the same regardless of skin colour and that it is rude to ask ppl why their skin is a different colour because some ppl might find it offensive.
When I asked him why he had asked that question he said that his friends at school told him he is silly because his dad has black skin. That makes me really sad for him and I don't really know how I should go about dealing with this issue. What do you all think I should do???

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Anne - posted on 06/01/2011

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My kid is the only non-white kid in her class. She is bi-racial and adopted. In the first 2-3 weeks at school, the other kids got curious and started to ask questions and they all tried to touch her hair. My daughter hates it, her hair is off limits to everyone. One day after school, some of the kids asked me questions of why Olivia looks different. I answered all of their questions. Luckily though, most of the other moms are very open and understanding and I told one of the moms that her kid was being rude to my daughter. Her color was never an issue again!

Maybe you could talk to your son's teacher hand have a "children of the world" lesson is class?

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Tammy - posted on 06/01/2011

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I agree that you should talk with the teacher. Addressing the kids questions, misunderstandings and misconceptions directly should clear the problem. I am a big person and taller than my husband and I have had kids ask why I'm big and even my niece when she was about 7 started asking questions of me at a family dinner (to her parent's dismay). Why are you taller than Uncle Peter? Why do you have freckles? etc. As long as the questions are honest and not mean spirited I always answer them happily because children are naturally curious and observant and its only when we act as though they are doing something wrong or they have been shown fear or embarrassment about differences that they are taught that differences are 'bad'. Differences are not 'bad' no matter what they are, they are merely a fact of life that keeps things interesting.

Deanna - posted on 06/01/2011

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I think what you did was exactly right, teaching him at home the value of diversity is where it begins, however i would make the teacher aware just in case it becomes an issue.

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