How to Teach Your Kids About Racism
See the show notes at: http://www.3in30podcast.com/113-teach-kids-about-racism
Rachel Nielson: Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States, and we’re about to head into Black History Month in February, so I wanted to continue the conversation that we started on the podcast a few months ago with Episode 101: Why and How to Talk to Your Kids about Skin Tone and Race. That episode talked about the basics of acknowledging skin tone with children and normalizing conversations about it instead of claiming colorblindness. If our children aren’t comfortable having conversations about skin tone and learning about the difficult realities of racism in our society, then they will never be able to make conscious decisions about how they want to operate in the world.
Today’s episode builds on that first episode as we will be learning not just how to talk to our kids about skin tone, but also how to talk to them about racism and bias: what it is, how it exists to some extent in pretty much all of us, and how we can push back against it and rewire our brains to be more inclusive, authentic, compassionate, and fair.
Our guest today is Jasmine Bradshaw who is a mother and elementary school teacher, a researcher and a podcaster. Jasmine’s podcast, First Name Basis, is for parents who want to teach their children about race, religion, culture, and social justice. And I love her tagline for the podcast: “answering the questions you’ve never felt comfortable asking.” I have a feeling that I’ll be asking a few of those questions today, so I’m grateful to have such an approachable, warm and educated guest who can guide me along. So Jasmine, welcome to 3 in 30
Jasmine Bradshaw: Hi Rachel, I am so glad to be here.
Rachel Nielson: Well I’m so excited to have you, and I have to tell everyone that you are one of our Podcast University students. You started your podcast just a few months ago after taking Podcast U, and I am so thrilled that your podcast is out in the world, and you are doing such an amazing job with the different topics that you’re covering. So Congratulations on getting going on this dream!
Jasmine Bradshaw: Thank you so much. I know that you can relate: I had podcasting equipment for such a long time before I actually hit that record button. And Podcast U really helped me do it. So if anybody out there is looking to start a podcast, I could not recommend a better course.
Rachel Nielson: Oh, well thank you very much. Monica and I like to listen to a couple of the episodes of the new podcasts that are launched as a result of Podcast U, and when I listened to your first few episodes, I knew that I wanted to have you on my show because I learned more about race and talking to my kids about race in your first three episodes than I had learned in my entire formal education before that, which I think shows a few things: First of all, you’re really good at what you do and explaining it; but also that formal education is failing us on this topic. And as parents, we need to seek out additional resources, resources and educate ourselves. So I’m so grateful that you’re here today and that you’re going to teach us a lot of information that when I heard it on your show, I was like, “How did I not know this before?”
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes, that’s the reaction I get from lots of people. They’re like, “How am I a full-grown adult, and I’ve never heard of this??” But it’s okay. Now you know, and now you’re on the journey. So we’re glad about that.
Rachel Nielson: Yes. And I do want to acknowledge that our three takeaways for this episode were originally three takeaways on one of your episodes. Like, I listened to it and thought, “Basically I just want to have this exact same conversation on my show where I can interject and ask you questions and we can discuss each point.” [both laughing] So, we’re just going to launch right into those
We’re not going to be able to cover everything in a 30-minute podcast that goes into this very complex issue, but we are going to give some really actionable places to start with both investigating your own prejudice–which is the place to start as a parent, to educate and look at yourself–and then also how to teach your kids about it as well. So do you want to just start with your first takeaway for us?
Jasmine Bradshaw: Sure. So one of my favorite quotes when I’m thinking about this and teaching my kids about it–because I feel like moms are the perfect people to teach this within the walls of their home, it’s such a sacred space–one of my favorite quotes is from an activist and author, her name is Angela Davis, and she says, “In a racist society, it’s not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.” So the takeaways that I’ve prepared are things that we can actively do to be anti-racist. And that first one is that we need to be teaching our children that race is a social construct that was created to justify slavery. And that is just a fancy way of saying that race was made up by human beings.
Rachel Nielson: So, race is not real. And this is the thing, Jasmine, that when I listened to you podcast, I was like, “Wow, how did I never know this until now?”–the way you describe how human beings made up race; it’s not a biological, scientific fact. It’s made up.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yeah it has no basis in biology at all. If you think about another social construct, money, for example–money has value because we give it value. If we didn’t give it value, it’s just a random piece of paper. But race is the same way: it has value because we gave it value as a society.
So my husband and I were looking into it, and we found that in 2000, The Human Genome Project came out and said that on a biological level–on the smallest level, the nucleotide level–as humans, we are all 99.6 to 99.8% the same. There are no significant differences between races when it comes to biology. So once we learned that, we’re like, “Well then where did it come from, then who made it up, and why do we look at it as something that’s more scientific instead of social?” And there are two key players in this game:
The first is a scientist named Carl Linnaeus, and he’s known as the father of modern taxonomy.” And that just means that he came up with the way that we classify animals and plants and insects and all of that kind of stuff–how we put things into categories. I think of it like when I walk into Target, and I have my list, I know what I need. I’m not going to look for baby stuff in the clothing aisle. I’m not going to look for makeup in the food aisle. Everything is where it’s supposed to be. And that’s what Carl Linnaeus was trying to do with all of the species of everything in the world. So once he was doing animals and all of that stuff, he moved on to human beings, and he created four different categories: So there was white, which is European; red, which is Native American; yellow, which is Asian; and black, which is African. And so he kind of planted that seed in terms of race being a scientific thing.
So from there,we have another scientist who worked underneath Carl Linnaeus, and his name was Friedrich Blumenbach. Now the date on Friedrich Blumenbach is really important: He was doing his work in 1775. So I just want you to keep that in your brain. He added another category, which is called malay. So “malay” means brown, and it was people from the islands. So there now we have white, red, yellow, black, and brown or malay.
Friedrich Blumenbach is famous for coining the term “Caucasian.” So at that time there was the belief that the shape of your skull had a lot to do with your brain development and your brain capacity, and he actually had a collection of skulls that he would look at and study. And he found this skull that he thought was the most beautiful skull, and it was from a place called the Caucusas Mountains, which is on the border of Russia and Georgia. And he was like, “Oh, this skull is the most beautiful, it’s the best one. So this is the Caucasian skull, and everybody who is white is Caucasian.” And he believed that all of the other races were degenerations of that. So Caucasian was the primary one–the first one, the best one–and then everybody else was a degeneration of the others.
Rachel Nielson: Which you can see right there, just “degeneration of the ideal” is going to lead to some problematic beliefs about different human beings if they are “degenerate.”
Jasmine Bradshaw: Exactly. And so I told you to remember that date, 1775. Well what happens in the very next year, 1776? The Declaration of Independence, in which we specifically say that “all men are created equal.” So we are like, wait a minute–the slave trade is going on long before the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. So we see that we’re doing this, but we also want to write this document and create this new country with the value that all men are created equal. But we have the basis of our economy as kidnapping people, taking them from their homes, and forcing them to work for free under these terrible conditions. So how do we reconcile those two things? Well, it’s okay if they’re “degenerations,” you know; it’s okay for us to do that to them if they’re not actually fully human. So that’s what we mean when we’re saying that race is a social construct that was created to justify slavery. Because you can’t have slavery in a place where all men are created equal. But if enslaved people are not necessarily men, then it doesn’t mean that you’re breaking with your values.
There’s an author that I love, his name is Ta-Nehisi Coates, and he says, “Race is the child of racism, not the father.” So if you think about it, racism existed and then we created race to kind of explain it.
Rachel Nielson: Oh that’s so interesting. Okay. So after we have this understanding that race is a social construct, we can teach our children that, right? We can tell them all this history.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes, we can teach our older children by explaining what I just told you. But if you’re talking to younger children–I’ve taught this to second and third graders–I have just boiled it down to that disconnect between “we are all created equal” as a country and then owning people and this issue of slavery. Because here in Arizona we start talking about the Civil War in third grade, so we are having to have these conversations with those younger kiddos too.
Rachel Nielson: Yeah, definitely. And then what is the next step or takeaway of what we can teach them?
Jasmine Bradshaw: Okay. So the next thing that we should be teaching our kids is about implicit bias. So implicit biases are just “the attitudes and stereotypes that affect your understanding and your decisions in a manner that’s unconscious.” So usually you don’t really know that it’s happening. And I think of it as like, you see someone walking down the street in your neighborhood and you instantly think to yourself, “What are they doing here?” And I know you totally know what I mean. And you’re kind of like, “Ew, why did I have that thought?”
Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum explains racism as like a smog. Sometimes it’s really, really thick and we can see it, and we can reach out and touch it; and that is the racism that we usually think of with the white hoods and the burning crosses, and that’s the racism that we could never see ourselves perpetuating. But then there’s this other type of racism that is born out of implicit bias, and that’s the smog that we’re breathing in day in and day out, but we don’t necessarily feel like it’s as tangible. We don’t really see it as much.
Rachel Nielson: We don’t even know it’s there a lot of the time.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes, exactly. And is it okay if I share a quick story about how that’s impacted my life?
Rachel Nielson: Definitely.
Jasmine Bradshaw: So when I was pregnant with my daughter, Violet, when we first found out we were so excited. I scheduled the appointment with my OB, and I had never met her–I just went and found her online–and I started to countdown. Like we could not wait. The day came, and we couldn’t believe that we were maybe going to hear her heartbeat or see her, you know, on an ultrasound. And we were just so excited, and we’re sitting in the room waiting, and the doctor walks in and looks me up and down, and the first thing she says to me is, “Was this on purpose?”
Rachel Nielson: Oh gosh.
Jasmine Bradshaw: No “hello.” No “how are you?” No “I’m so-and-so.” She says, “Was this on purpose?” And I look at my husband, and we’re both confused, and I said, “Yes.” And she goes, “Well, in that case, congratulations.” And I remember feeling like I had been hit by a truck. I was just like, “What? What does she mean?” And when I walked away from it, I was thinking, “I know she said that to me because I’m black, because I’m a young black mom.” And when I tell people about that, they’re instantly like, “Oh Jasmine, I’m sure that’s not what she was thinking. I’m sure that’s not what she meant.” But I live in a community where there are so many young white moms, and I’m sure that’s not how she starts every single one of her appointments.
I know as a black woman going into my prenatal care, that my likelihood of dying during this process is higher than my white counterparts. The CDC reports that black women are 3.3x more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women. Black infants are 2x more likely to die than white infants. So I go into pregnancy knowing this could be scary, this could be life-or-death for me, and the first thing my doctors says is, “Was this on purpose?” And it was just like, “Oh my goodness!” And the CDC says too that 60% of those deaths could be prevented with better care and better communication. So obviously my husband and I changed doctors right away, but it’s things like that–I don’t think she walked away from that thinking she did anything racist. But now when I’m having this conversation with you, you can clearly see and I can clearly see that that was completely racist.
Rachel Nielson: Yeah. There was so much implicit bias in the question. I even think with your first example of “What are they doing here?” if you think that when you see somebody in your neighborhood that’s a different color than the majority of the people in your neighborhood–I think that even that question without the tone–just the question of “What are they doing here?” shows some bias. You wouldn’t think that if you saw a random person walking down the street that that was the same color as the majority of people in your neighborhood. You wouldn’t think anything. And that’s where I’ve had to sort of check myself with my own implicit biases because I would never look at someone and think, “What are they doing here?” But I will say that I have had the thought, “What are they doing here?” You know, just like this person is out of place or it doesn’t fit, and I have to check myself and think, “Well why wouldn’t they be here?” I have to just constantly question why I’m even having these questions or thoughts come to mind that I wouldn’t have about other people, solely based on the way that they look, if that makes sense.
And in the case of those horrible statistics you just gave about how black women are more likely to die and black babies are more likely to die, that is because they’re not given the same quality of care and the communication isn’t as good, not because of anything that’s like put in writing anywhere. It’s because doctors are not as likely to take the concerns of black mothers seriously as they are their white patients. Is that correct?
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes, you’re absolutely right.
Rachel Nielson: And that’s because of this implicit bias and prejudices that we really all carry around with us, whether we know it, and whether we like it, and you have to consciously fight against those things that are inside of us.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yeah, you’re so right. And I’ve had people be like, “Okay, you’re telling me about this, but how do I know what my biases are?” And there’s a test that you can take. It’s a test that was created by Harvard researchers. It’s called the Implicit Association Test. And you go online, and the screen pops up with pictures. There are different versions, but if you take the black and white version, there’s pictures of black faces and pictures of white faces. And then you also see words that have positive connotations and negative connotations. So like peace, joy, hope, danger, fear, anger…things like that. And based on the speed and the rate at which you’re tapping the keys on your keyboard, it can tell you if you have a preference for one race over another. And I feel like this is a perfect opportunity as parents to take the Implicit Association Test, but also to be vulnerable with our children and show them what results you end up with. Like, “Okay, here’s where I’m at, and we are working on this as a family. I am committed to this journey and getting better and changing.” Because as you can imagine, most white people who take the test, you can imagine what their results are going to be.
Rachel Nielson: And I have to tell you, Jasmine, I took the test.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Oh! Go girl!
Rachel Nielson: I took the test yesterday when I was preparing for this interview, and I was like, “I don’t know if I can share my results on the air because I don’t want these to be my results.” But my results were a strong preference to European Americans, to white Americans. And I was like, “What? I don’t feel like I have that bias! I don’t want to have that! And yet this is what this test is telling me that I need to work on this,” you know? What do I do with that after I see those results, and I don’t feel I’m that way, and I don’t like those results, what do I do with that?
Jasmine Bradshaw: Don’t get stuck there because, first of all, you’re so brave for going and doing it. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t take it and especially wouldn’t share it with the world. So that is amazing that you did that in the first place.
Rachel Nielson: Well, I only want to share it because there’s going to be some moms who, like me, are very like concerned with social justice, very concerned with being fair, who understand that race is made up, and they’re going to go take this test and they’re going to be like, “What in the world?” when they see their results. They’re going to feel disgusted with themselves. So I need to share my results so that other people know you’re not alone if that’s what some of your implicit biases are–it just means we have work to do!
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes, it’s the perfect conversation starter. So I think of it like when we’re teaching our children new things, we do the same thing for ourselves. And you’ve heard that saying, “neurons that fire together wire together.” So right now, the way that your neurons are firing is a way that is implicitly biased against black people or people of color in general. And so when you have that thought that seems benign of, “Oh, what are they doing here?” You can stop in the moment, pause yourself and rewire your neurons, like correct what you’re thinking in your mind. You can give different options. I like to say something like, “Oh, they’re probably going to have a picnic with their family” or “they probably live in this neighborhood just like I do.” And I think this is the perfect opportunity for us to share that with our children as well, to model that. Because you never know if they’re sitting in the backseat thinking the exact same thing. You can say aloud, “Hey look at that man walking there. He’s probably going to have a nice day in the park with his dog” or something like that, where you are changing those negative biases into positive things.
And then of course, another thing that you can do is get on a first name basis with people who are different from you. And you can do that by going to cultural events or just diversifying your friend group or the books on your bookshelf and the shows and movies that you watch. The research shows that this really works: knowing people and having a deep connection with them will attack our biases.
There was a study done on college students where they had three different pairs of students–well, there were more than just the six of them–but they had black students rooming with other black students, white students were rooming with other white students, and then a pair of a black student and a white student. And they measured their biases at the beginning, and then they measured their biases at the end. And the only group that improved was the black student and the white student who were paired together.
Rachel Nielson: Wow, that’s amazing. And that’s so powerful to think about what that means for us in our lives and how we can change and grow. And I feel like for me, as I thought about this yesterday, I thought, “How would this have happened?” How would I have developed these biases when I was raised by extremely loving, fair parents, and that’s the value that I hold, and yet this is still there? And I think it is because I’ve been in predominantly white communities where I haven’t had a lot of exposure, especially growing up, to people of color. So getting on that first name basis is important, first of all… But I guess I have a few questions for you here. What do you do if you don’t have a lot of people of color in your community? Like, you want to get on a first name basis with people, you want to encourage your children to, but there’s really not a lot of people of color to even befriend in your community, what do you do with that?
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yeah, that’s a really good question. That’s kind of what we are trying to tackle over at First Name Basis. Because I felt as a black woman living in Mesa, Arizona, I kind of looked around and didn’t see many people who looked like me. And so that’s when I started to research things like cultural events. Like Chinese New Year here in Phoenix is a huge deal, but I had no idea until I figured out that there’s a Chinese Cultural Festival. And so just going to those and getting more comfortable with being “the only” and being around people who are different from you. Also Martin Luther King talked about how one of the most segregated times in our entire country is high noon on Sunday when everybody’s at church. So consider even going to a different church. And the thing is, it’s going to feel uncomfortable at first. It’s going to feel like, “Oh my goodness.” But I want you to think about all of the people of color who feel that each and every day.
I also think that social media is a great place to meet people. It seems silly, but you know, Rachel, that some of your closest friends you can meet on social media, and they can be people who are completely different from you who live in different states in different circumstances. So following people who are having these conversations can really help.
Rachel Nielson: Yes, I completely agree with that. And I also wanted to ask you to share something that I heard you talk about on a different episode of your podcast because it blew my mind. You talked about how children who never hear their parents say anything racist–they may be raised by extremely loving, extremely nonjudgmental, extremely non-prejudice parents–but they can still develop this bias based on the makeup of the community that they’re raised in. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes! One of the strongest forms of racism is segregation. And we don’t have in our society rules that keep us segregated anymore, but we segregate ourselves. And so there was a study done on toddlers, little kids who had racist attitudes and people were like, “Where does this come from?” And they realized that it comes from their experiences. They are natural-born categorizes. They’re always trying to put people into categories. So if they go in their neighborhood, and they go to church, and they go to school, and everybody in their playgroup is the same color as them, and then they go to Walmart and the person at Walmart who’s helping them bag their groceries or helping them find something is a person of color, they think, “Oh, that’s their position in my life, to help me do things.” Or their mom takes them to get their tire changed and the man who is changing their tire is black, and they think, “Oh, black men change tires.” So these little children as young as two and three years old are starting to put people into categories based on what they’re seeing. So segregation is that tool that is used to perpetuate these things within us that we don’t even know about.
Rachel Nielson: So, yeah, that totally made sense to me when I heard you say that, that if a child never has a doctor or a teacher or a pastor or a friend that is a person of color, and the only interactions that they have with people of color are in service positions, then they are not racist in a way that they’re making unkind, mean judgements…they’re simply categorizing. And so they start to believe, “Oh, people of color fill this role. And people who look like me, who I trust, who are the role models in my life, are this color.” And so you need to really strive to find diversity within your daily life for your children. But that can be tough. I mean, that’s tough in a town of 7,000 people in Idaho, which is where I live. And so I’m going to have to seek it out. The diversity may not be as obvious, but it is there, and I’m going to have to seek it out for my kids and for myself if I want to start breaking some of these implicit biases.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes, and that is you being actively anti-racist. And that’s why it’s not enough to be non-racist because that will be the results of your Implicit Association Test is, “Oh, I have this preference,” but when you’re being actively anti-racist, you can really break that down.
Rachel Nielson: And I do want to ask one more question. I know we’re kind of digging in deep here, but I’m assuming that the questions that are coming up for me are probably coming up for a lot of listeners. If you live in a predominantly white community like I do, and so you’re seeking out more diverse experiences, more diverse relationships for your kids and friends–I also don’t want to be disingenuous and go to be someone’s friend simply because they are a person of color. Like that doesn’t feel good either.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes, and we can tell. We can totally tell.
Rachel Nielson: And that’s almost racist in its own way: Like you’re serving me, you’re serving me by teaching my children, you know. So what do you do with that if you want to start building these relationships?
Jasmine Bradshaw: I think that you’re 100% right in just looking for opportunities. So I, for example, here in Phoenix, I take my daughter to a bilingual Storytime at the library. I don’t speak Spanish, and so for half of the time, I don’t know what they’re saying, but I think it’s really important that she gets exposed to the really large Latin X population we have in Arizona that she doesn’t have a lot of access to otherwise–so we go there so that she can meet people. And kids are the perfect connector, right? Kids being friends with each other, and then it’s kind of like our “in” as moms too. And go there with the mindset that you just want to make friends and not necessarily, “I want to make friends with a black person” like check check check off of your list. I think, too, it depends on your personality. Like, I have to push myself in that situation to talk to other moms while I’m there. It doesn’t make sense to just go there, plop her down, and then leave. I talk to the other moms, and I can make connections that way. And it’s just those small connections, different times throughout my week, that I think will add up to something bigger eventually. Like you can’t expect that the first time you meet somebody you’re going to be BFFs, but only if you continue to invest in that relationship. I mean you wouldn’t do that with someone who was your same race either.
Rachel Nielson: Oh yes, totally. And I do think that it’s okay for you to be uncomfortable talking to somebody who speaks a different language than you, like with the Spanish speaking thing. It’s okay to be uncomfortable talking to somebody who has a completely different culture. That’s something that I’ve learned from you and from Dr. Berry who I interviewed: it’s okay if I feel a little uneasy about these conversations and about this topic; what matters is that I want to learn and I want to be better and I’m willing to sit in the discomfort for the sake of becoming a better human and learning. And you know, it gets easier in those uncomfortable situations with time, if you just continue to invest there and be genuine in your investment.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes, I could cry listening to you say that. That is 100% true.
Rachel Nielson: Well thank you so much for diving in really deep there. And I’m still kind of like, “Ahh! I can’t believe I just admitted on the air what I discovered in that implicit bias test!” But I hope that will give moms the courage to go take that test, to look within themselves and think about how they want to improve, and to have their kids–especially like teenager– take the test, and have conversations about it.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yeah. The first time I took it I was in high school.
Rachel Nielson: Okay, and so what is your third takeaways for us?
Jasmine Bradshaw: So my third takeaway, after you have gotten on a first name basis with people, and you’re on this journey with us, you need to remember for yourself, but also teach your children, to respond with humility. So if you are friends with people of color, you are probably going to do and say things that are racist. And if you are not friends with people of color, you’re probably still doing those things, but nobody’s telling you about it. So when a person brings that up to you, it’s really important that you respond in a way that helps them know that they can trust you and that you’re a safe person. I think that people get in their head this binary of either you’re racist or you’re not racist, but that’s not really how it works. It’s in each moment, in each decision and action, you’re either doing things that are perpetuating racism or you’re doing things that are anti-racist, trying to break down the systems. So you don’t need to think of yourself as either in one camp or another. You can have a racist thought or do a racist thing, and still be a great person.
My husband came up with this amazing analogy, which I know some of your listeners probably are baseball fans so they will love it. I’m not one, but I still like this analogy, so hang in there with me. So he loves baseball and his favorite baseball player is a guy named Paul Goldschmidt. And a couple of years ago, he was up to bat and the pitcher threw a ball and it hit him right in the hand, and it broke his hand, and he was on the bench for the rest of the season. I want you to think about how baseball pitchers are professionals. They spend day in and day out practicing, throwing the ball in the exact right spot. So if this is their job to throw the ball in the exact right spot, the first question that comes to everybody’s mind when a batter gets hit with a ball is, “Did the pitcher do it on purpose?”
My husband and I talk about this, the fact that “the impact is greater than the intent.” So his intent–did he do it on purpose, or did he not?–really doesn’t have any effect on the impact, which is the fact that Paul Goldschmidt’s hand is broken, and he’ll be on the bench for the rest of the season. So when you are confronted by someone telling you that you just did or said something racist, I want you to think about the impact that you made rather than your intent. Because if you are that pitcher and your first response is, “Well, I didn’t do it on purpose. It was an accident!”or “that’s not what I meant to do,” think of how much more powerful it would be if your reaction was, “Oh my goodness, I am so sorry. How can I help you heal? What can I do differently next time?” And if that is your reaction, then you don’t even need to defend your intent because your intent will be clear. It will be clear that you didn’t mean to say or do something racist if your reaction is, “Oh my gosh, I don’t ever want to do that again. How can I change?”
Rachel Nielson: That’s so powerful. The difference between having a defensive reaction versus a loving, responsible reaction of, “Oh, I hurt someone and I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter if I meant to or not, I still did. I’m sorry. And I want to learn from this.” And modeling that for our children–with race, but also with anything in life!– when you hurt somebody, it doesn’t matter what your intent was. Just say, “I’m sorry. How can I help make it better?” That’s the way that our society will move forward in all areas.
You know, I had an experience in church where an older gentleman said something that was really hurtful, and I spoke up about it, and after the meeting he came and said, “I’m so sorry. I really hope I didn’t offend you. Tell me more about your point of view.” And I was so impressed that he didn’t just say, “Well, she’s a total crazy person and her views are wrong! ” or whatever, and he came and apologized for any hurt he may have caused. So I think that this is really a profound takeaway for conversations about race, but also for anything in life! Modeling humility when we hurt someone.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes, and it’s so important, especially when you’re talking about race, to remember how brave that person had to be to bring it up to you. Because people of color, I know as a black woman, I do not like to tell people that they are doing or saying something racist. I’m not sitting back and hoping that it happens. It’s like the worst. I have to love you enough to tell you that this thing hurt me, because if it’s someone that I don’t have a strong relationship with, I won’t tell them because I don’t want to deal with it, you know? I don’t think they’re going to react well, and I know that I’m not going to be met with grace or positivity, so I’m like, “well that’s a person that I can’t trust or I can’t feel safe around.” But if it’s somebody that I know loves me and wants the best for us and for our relationship, then I will say something, but I’m still met with, “Oh, you’re too sensitive” or “I was just joking” when instead, can you imagine how much progress could be made if they had just said, “Oh wow, I’m so sorry. What can I do to change?”
Rachel Nielson: So “the impact is greater than the intent” and just having this humility in all conversations that we have about anything! There are so many divisive conversations that we have now: politics, religion, conversations about people’s sexual orientation, race, all of it. Just having this attitude of, “Oh, teach me” is so different than, “No, I didn’t mean to hurt someone, so I can’t be held accountable for what I said or did.”
Well Jasmine, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing so much wisdom with us, and I am just so grateful that your podcast exists. It’s such an important thing to have out in the world, and I want to encourage everyone to go and listen to Jasmine’s podcast. It’s not just about race. There’s also conversations about disabilities; there was a great series about the real story of Thanksgiving and how to teach that to your children; and there are episodes about family culture and just all of these topics that sometimes we gloss over, but that are really important to change the way that our children are being taught. So thank you for coming on and being part of that conversation for 3 and 30, and can you recap your three takeaways for us before you go?
Jasmine Bradshaw: Yes absolutely. So the first takeaway to teach your children that race is a social construct that was created to justify slavery. The second is to teach them about implicit bias: how to recognize it and how to combat it. And the third is to teach them how to respond with humility when they inevitably make mistakes or hurt someone.
Rachel Nielson: Great. Well, thank you Jasmine, for being here and for your time, and you’ve really added a lot to 3 in 30.
Jasmine Bradshaw: Thank You
Rachel Nielson: Thank you for listening today, and I hope you learned as much from that interview as I did. If you are interested in taking the online Implicit Association Test, like I did, I will put that link in the show notes.
I will tell you that I still feel vulnerable admitting my results of that test, but I wanted to model what it’s like to confront and acknowledge the hidden biases within us that even we don’t know about.
Once we make those biases conscious, we can start to notice when we have little thoughts or make assumptions that don’t match with our values, and only then can we start to correct them. Since this interview, I have been able to call myself out several times when I noticed implicit bias, and it feels so good to know that I am aware and I am changing.
I love you all, and I hope you have a beautiful week with your family.
Episode 113: How to Teach Your Kids about Racism