I’m white and Jewish and grew up in a middle class liberal Canadian home in the ’70s, so I was raised with two contradictory messages about race and racism:
- Racism is bad.
- You should never talk about race.
I think the idea was that we shouldn’t talk about race because it reinforces racism. But teaching kids, particularly white kids, that they shouldn’t talk about race isn’t a step toward less racism or greater equity. Instead, it creates silence where existing systemic racism — and the white supremacy that underlies it — continues.
It teaches white kids that they don’t have to think or talk about race, and it contributes to a white, mainstream world that doesn’t care about or acknowledge the ways that black, Indigenous, and kids of colour experience prejudice (and pride).