Racism and discrimination is not always confined to overt acts, it can also be institutionalized and systemic.
Racial awareness – noting that people look different – occurs between the ages two and two and half. How your mentee views other races will depend on their parent’s attitude, their peers, the media, school, youth groups and you.
Racial attitudes are learned not so much by contact with other groups, rather by contact with the prevailing attitude towards other groups.
Steps to dealing with discrimination and racism
By doing activities and responding to racism, you can help your mentee fight racism.
- Initiate activities that develop positive attitudes to your mentee’s cultural identity and those of other groups.
- Listen carefully to your mentee’s question and comments and make sure you understand what the child is trying to communicate.
- Provide truthful explanations relative to the mentee’s age and ability to understand.
- Help them understand stereotypes and that racism is not a permanent condition.
- If you encounter racist jokes, be sure not to laugh and tell the joker this type of humour is not funny.
- Be aware of your own biases and be sure to check them. Be a positive example.