Parents Are Inadvertently Perpetuating Racism, And This Is How

by Kisha Gulley
Originally Published: 
monkeybusinessimages / Getty

When we were growing up, my mom used to have a lot of knickknacks; she never really liked throwing things away. One thing she had was a framed picture of the poem “Children Learn What They Live” by Dorothy Law Nolte. I used to read it almost every day, but not until recently did I really start thinking about what it could actually mean.

It’s no secret that lately there have been more and more situations of racial injustices in the United States. Every time I see a news story of a young black man being killed, or mistreated in some way, I think of my husband and son. Even though I have dealt with my fair share of racist people, it does something to me when I think about someone treating my husband or son in that way.

Over the past week I’ve spoken about racism to different people, and on three different occasions I have gotten the exact same response. Their response was: “Well, racism exists all over the world so it is what it is.” What kind of response is that? So because everybody else does it we’re just supposed to accept it? All I could think to myself was, is this what some people are teaching their kids? Because I am most definitely not teaching my son this at all. None of this is okay. Is this what our children are learning?

Our children are a reflection of us. So the way we raise our children today will directly impact who they become as adults. Am I supposed to teach my son that because racism happens everywhere, then it’s normal and to be accepted? Or how about those people, what are their kids learning? That racism is okay because everyone does it? It’s okay to do what everyone else does?

No. Hell no. I see some of the comments adults make on social media posts. Some of the ignorant, disrespectful comments that are made. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in everything that is going on, but have you really stopped to think what you are exposing your kids to? The types of behaviors that our children are learning because of what they are “living”?

Teach your kids to see color. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say they don’t see color. Why not? Ignoring differences isn’t the same as accepting people for who they are and loving them. Teach your children not to disregard what other people are going through just because they aren’t experiencing it themselves. Teach your children the differences, but to love people. Let them know it is not okay to turn a blind eye.

When I started this blogging journey I initially started it as an outlet. As a way for me to share my personal experiences about motherhood and marriage. However, a part of my experience as a mother of a black child is having to teach him these serious and uncomfortable lessons. I don’t just have to teach my son basics about learning to read and write, but I have to teach him real life lessons.

We often have to remember that communication is not just verbal, but it’s non-verbal as well. We have to lead by example. So when our children see us treat other people a certain way, they are still learning. When they see us reacting a certain way to situations, their behavior will speak on what they have learned.

If children learn what they live, what are you teaching your children?

This article was originally published on