The coronavirus has brought hardship, but it's also given parents of color a chance to teach their children counter-narratives not written from a white perspective.
By Monisha Bajaj – NEWSONE.COM
My 6-year-old hates the British. To be more specific, the British Empire that ruled over up to a quarter of the world’s land by the early 1900s. Hates that one of the biggest diamonds in the world, found in India over 1,000 years ago, now sits in the queen’s set of crown jewels. Hates that they drew up borders quickly and exited South Asia in the 1940s, resulting in the death of millions, and making his grandfather and great-grandparents refugees in the newly formed nation of India.
How does my 6-year-old know all about this? Well, because we talk about it and have a lot of books at home. We have always read books about South Asian culture and history. And now that we have more flexible schedules since we have to work at home – and the kiddo has to do school at home – we have even more time together. He naturally gravitates to the books with characters that look like him.
As a scholar of multicultural education, I know that children are able to understand complex issues, like racism, if they are broken down and explained in a way that they can grasp. So, when books talk about subjects like segregation, slavery, colonialism or sexism, my partner and I explain those terms as best we can.
A different worldview
Conversations about world history in our home go a little like this:
Parent: “People from Europe really liked the spices and cloth from South Asia, so they wanted to go there to buy stuff.”
Kiddo: “Even Christopher Columbus was lost and trying to find India, right?”
Parent: “Right! Europeans went to South Asia, first to trade and buy things. But then they wanted more power, and the British decided to take over and bully people around.”
Kiddo: “How did they bully them?”
Parent: “They made people give them money (land-taxes), didn’t let them make their own clothes to wear, and didn’t even let them make salt out of the water in the sea next to where they lived!”