Why I Don’t Teach My Kids To Be ‘Color Blind’

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The following was syndicated from Quora for the Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].

“What is a good way to teach young kids not to make loud, off-color comments about people’s race?”

Personally, I prefer the answers that point out that 1. People are different colors and 2. You shouldn’t avoid that fact and discourage your child’s recognition of a truth (or near truth), making an issue out of something that shouldn’t be.

One of the most refreshing moments I’ve had as a father was when I was with a group of parents of 3-year-olds. We were discussing diversity, race, etc. and how to raise our children to be blind to such concepts and yet aware of history, racism, prejudice, etc. It was a tense discussion; with many ethnicities and colors in the room. Imagine my discomfort as the white (personally, light brown) male. The conversation turned for the better when someone used a phrase popular in the past few decades to help fight for equality, “We’re all the same!” The room pondered that for a moment and someone said, But we’re not.

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To try to teach kids that we aren’t ALL different sizes, colors, shapes, talents, experiences, intellects, etc. does them the greatest disservice. More to your concern, to hide that fact seems disingenuous. Yes, recognizing those traits does put people in groups, but the fact that we’re different (not the same) is something to be embraced. The issue is not the fact that we’re different but how we perceive, treat, and live with those differences. Everyone should have equal opportunity, treatment, support, love, etc. but people are different colors — people of the same race are different colors.

Where that conversation turned was in appreciating that a problem of the past has been in grouping people by race and color — not, exclusively, color. The spectrum from lily white to the darkest black skin is literally that, a spectrum. Most easily put to my kids, my skin is different from theirs and mom’s skin is different from all of ours. We’re all “white” and yet, none of us are. The color is a valid description of our differences and nothing more.

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About a month later I was in a grocery store with my younger daughter and she asked of the man in line before us, “Why is he purple?” While I was mortified, the man turned and smiled, saying, “I like that. Sweetie, that’s how God made me”

The choice of color used to describe someone is a matter of perspective. The fact that we all have a color is a wonderful thing.

Paul O’Brien is a growth hacker and advisor. Also working quite a bit in economic development and venture capital. Visit his website seobrien.com. You can find more Quora posts here:

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