Just this morning I read a really interesting article called “Are We Raising Racists?” by Jennifer Harvey. She speaks about how her young daughter would dance around praising George Washington because the history that she learned in school was very one-sided. Only in college and perhaps high school do we as students really get insight into other perspectives and how minority groups have struggled throughout history. Harvey writes about how her daughter was horrified to learn that the nation’s leaders could make mistakes and be wrong on many issues, such as the fact that George Washington owned slaves. Interestingly, as Harvey notes, “as early as age 5, children recognize differential treatment and understand something about the social status of different racial groups” (Harvey 1). She explains that one-dimensional teachings such as “we are all equal” are not effective because they do not explain to children the reality of racist situations and why they happen. Children should be encouraged to practice moral reasoning from a young age. Many black parents, for example, have begun teaching their sons and daughters how to avoid confrontation with the police and how to avoid being shot. As sad as this is, it at least shows that more people are actively doing something to perhaps lessen racial tensions. Whites, however, do have a particular responsibility to educate the next generations because of white privilege, as we have discussed in class.
From my personal experience, I can say that I had a similar education in which we were taught one perspective from history and were expected to believe everything we were told. The problem with this type of education is that this information is ingrained into our brains at a young age and it forms our views on issues that can be difficult to change later on. I believe that parents and teachers have a huge influence on our views, because often we hear their own views before we can really develop our own. Though the number may be diminishing, many children have the same political views as their parents, because these are the ideas they grew up with. If I were to propose a change to the current elementary and middle school education system, I would say that kids should be exposed to diversity either through the stories of their classmates or even just through a revision of textbooks or more exposure to current news. Personally, the more I hear about current events and racial tensions, the more I am inclined to try and do something about them, and I think this could work the same way for younger students.