This month, team up against discrimination with your family to help improve our world! March 21 is Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day, recognizing the efforts that have been made toward ending discrimination, and the work that is still left to do. We can work all year to eliminate discrimination in our communities through large and small actions every day. Here are some ways that your family can commit to making a difference against discrimination for our friends and neighbors.
Learn from people who are different than you
To understand how discrimination hurts our society, we have to learn about the people who are being discriminated against for the color of their skin or cultural traditions. When we learn about races and cultures that are not our own, it opens up our perspective and gives us ways to understand how others might be hurt by discrimination. But, when our family and friends are all the same race and from the same culture, sometimes we don’t learn accurate facts about people who are different from us.
The best way to learn about a culture is to go directly to someone in that culture or race to learn from them! This may mean going to an event held at a church you haven’t been to before, attending festivals held for holidays of other cultures, or reading books and watching shows written by people from cultures that are different from yours. Also, almost every culture has traditions of sharing food. What’s better than making new friends over a delicious shared dinner?
Learn about history together
Racial discrimination is a historical problem, but it is also a modern one. Some educational books and documentaries might ignore the uncomfortable elements of discrimination in the past, or they may talk about it as if it is over, and people don’t experience it anymore. But the best way to prevent it from affecting our communities in the future is to learn how it was allowed to happen in the past, not ignoring it or pretending it isn’t still a problem. This is why it’s important to learn about history as a family, and discuss how you want the future to look. Seek out many sources of information about historical events, policies that affected people of different races, and listen to stories of the people who actually lived through the events. Then your family will be ready to go forward into the future, working against discrimination in your own city and community.
Learn how to speak up
We can all learn about the negative effects of racial discrimination, but we also have to know what to do when we see it happen. Your family can practice this by speaking up for fairness in our lives, overall, and learning how to get help when a situation seems unjust. As a parent, you can encourage your kids to be open with you about situations at school, with other grownups, and their friends, and support them in making fair choices. Practice asking them how they might feel in situations that seem unfair, and what they might do to fix the situation. Take their concerns seriously when they express feeling hurt by the actions of yourself and others. By supporting them in their own emotions, it gives them a model to act with empathy towards others, regardless of race.
If you see a situation that is discriminatory as an adult, don’t hide it from your kids and family. Instead, address it in the open, involving both your family and your community in finding a solution. Explain to your kids the avenues available to address discrimination, whether it’s through talking to the principal at school, the HR department at a company, or meeting with members of the community to solve problems together. By being a role model for your kids in addressing discrimination, they will continue on your work as they become adults, themselves.