Your Skin Color
My previous post The Color of my Skin was written from an adult’s perspective and how each culture views skin color and treats the person accordingly. However, there is another culture that negatively affects a child because they look different and that is the school culture.
School life is tough for a kid if one does not fit perfectly according to the standards set by peers. Put something unchangeable like skin color and life becomes miserable. You wake up every day fearing that someone is going to have a good day at your expense. My aunt used to tell me; it’s deplorable to make fun of someone who can’t change something in themselves, like religion, facial features, skin color, family, etc. I remember thinking, “If only more parents thought like that, my life would have been easier”. But sadly, not many people possess that kind of common sense or courtesy.
“Just Ignore it, Don’t be Weak”
This kind of discriminatory behavior is not inborn, it is taught. Children observe, adopt and implement it if adults around them indulge in those behaviors. It becomes part of their belief system and they grow up with no empathy towards others. The constant teasing affected me deeply in school but my parents always told me “Just ignore it, don’t be weak”. No matter how hard I tried, that advice didn’t help me. (FYI, it never helps).
As adults, we have the ability to ignore and be strong because we know better and we understand the consequences. However, for a child, they don’t have the mental capacity to understand and how to deal with issues like racism and discrimination.Confused feelings are not an indication of weakness and a child cannot ignore his need to be accepted. It’s unrealistic to expect they can ignore. A child spends more time in school than they do at home. That means their school life is as important as their family life, (maybe even more).
Do The Opposite and Deal With it.
In retrospect, I realize that all this hurt could have been avoided if I understood what I was going through. You can’t do anything to change what is happening to a child but you could try to change a child’s perspective and how they deal with the matter. When a child is unable to understand these stages in their lives, they retreat, they stop trying and these insecurities solidify in their personalities. As parents, we must recognize these anxieties in our children and not brush them off. In a child’s perspective, these are humongous problems, and they need someone to let them know how to deal with it. There are so many things in life that don’t need to affect you so badly if only you understood what is happening to you.
Thankfully good books can make life easier for parents. This week’s books accomplishes two goals.
1) It will help your child to be comfortable in whatever skin they have.
2) It will teach other children to be more accepting and empathetic towards others who look different.