Race and kids 101: how to raise them to save SA

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Race and kids 101: how to raise them to save SA

FREE TO READ | There are basic rules for raising them as competent and compassionate citizens in troubled times

Columnist

How does one raise a respectful child in a racially afflicted society? I have lost count of how many times parents across SA have sought counsel on some version of this question or asked me to address them as groups on this vitally important concern.

The problem of race simply will not go away. This past week has shown that even as most South Africans celebrated the unity of the rugby team and the promise contained in their mantra #Strongertogether, there were political opportunists in parliament waiting to abuse this moment to divide us on racial grounds. So, here are some lessons I have learnt from co-raising two children as well as teaching and leading thousands of black and white students over the years, about what parents can do to prepare their children to be competent and compassionate citizens in a racially divided country.

First up, I can predict with a fair amount of certainty whether your children will grow up to be racially troubled based simply on who comes over to braai at your home on a Saturday night. If all those people look like you, pray like you, make love like you and speak your language, your children will suffer. They will think that such social arrangements are normative and that diverse communities are strange, even aberrant. That is why we see racial incidents at schools and universities – it mainly comes from young people who grew up in racially sheltered communities with all the negative emotions, stereotypes and chauvinism that isolation breeds. How can you change that? Well, as parents you create a sense of what your children come to see and experience as “normal” in the home environment...

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