Why Singaporean Parents Need To Educate Kids About Race And Ethnicities

·6-min read

A shocking incident has put the spotlight once again on the rising number of racist incidents in Singapore. A local resident stands accused of shouting racial slurs at an Indian expatriate family.

The incident occurred on 2 May 2021, at the Pasir Ris Beach park just after 6 pm in full public view.

A Singaporean resident shouted racial slurs against the Indian family, while also accusing them to be Covid-19 virus carriers. The expatriate family including the father, mother and their two children was at the park. The family says this is their first racial incident in the 10 years they’ve lived in Singapore.

The incident does make you reassess the definition of race for kids and what kind of examples are we setting for the next generation.

Passing Racial Slurs In A Public Place

definition of race for kids
definition of race for kids

Image Source: Pexels

A two-and-a-half-minute video of the incident emerged online and shows an aggravated local resident claiming to have served in the NS, screaming at the Indian male, 42.

While the man did not repeat the racial slurs on camera, the mother (recording the video) can be heard asking the local resident why he passed the “racial comments.”

The report states that the local resident taunted the expatriate family by called them “Bloody Indians go back, spreading virus here,” according to the wife.

Why Is It Racist?

The virus in question is COVID-19 with India currently being one of the worst-affected countries globally. At the time of publishing this report, India had over 400,000 new cases and over 23 million confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, ‘bloody Indians’ was commonly used by the British for Indians during colonial rule. The term brings back the hardships of pre-independence for the people of India, in plan speak.

What Does The Indian Family Say?

The Indian expatriate family says the father lowered his mask to drink water. But the local resident made a huge fuss about it and went on to make racial taunts against them.

The video does not show the man actually saying the slang or other park-goers intervening. However, the report says other local residents eventually stepped in to break the argument.

The mum says that the daughter is traumatised by the incident especially since she is born and brought up in Singapore.

Racism In Singapore: What’s Going On?

definition of race for kids
definition of race for kids

Image Source: Pexels

There have been a rising number of cases in Singapore related to racist behaviour and xenophobia. While this recent case was one such incident, there have been several such incidents in the more recent years.

In fact, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, addressed these racist attacks in the parliament on May 11, 2021.

“The majority of Singaporeans are decent and not racist, but if we continue to fan the flames of racism, we will get to a more uncomfortable position,” Mr Shanmugam said.

“(Singapore) will fail if we allow racism and xenophobia to become prevalent, and it is contrary to everything that has made us successful and proud to be Singaporean,” he added further.

Definition Of Race For Kids Is Changing

Image Source: Pexels

The world is getting smaller and there is an overlap of cultures, religions, ideologies across the world. Singapore too is a melting pot of cultures with people from all over the world residing on the island.

It’s also a time when minorities across the world finally have found a voice. That’s the reason why the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the West also finds resonance with people in the East.

You need to be more socially aware of the world and raise your child in an environment that’s inclusive of other cultures. So start early and model the right behaviour to avoid the pitfalls of ignorance.

Definition Of Race For Kids: How To Talk To Them About Race And Ethnicities

The definition of race for kids takes a new meaning as the world goes truly “global” in every sense. Over the past year, the pandemic has reinforced that feeling and needs to be a stepping stone in resolving racial bias.

definition of race for kids
definition of race for kids

Image Source: Pexels

1. Model good behaviour

Infants are too young to understand the difference between people of different colours. But a toddler is more likely to form an opinion. This happens during the age of one to two years and will see your child mimic your behaviour in the outside world.

That’s why it’s important that you model good behaviour, which your little one can learn from. It begins with little things like how you describe people, or how you treat your co-workers from another race.

2. Avoid using they/them/those people in your conversations

Children understand when the other person is inclusive or not based on how you treat them. This not only includes your literal behaviour with them but also how you speak about them at home.

Do you include the words they/them/those people or mimic their accents or behaviour? This creates an unconscious separation that will create a sense of otherness in people who sound different.

3. Filtering out racism tones from TV shows, movies, and cartoons

The age between two and three years is when kids develop a bond between people as well as objects. It’s also when feelings of fear and discrimination are more likely to be embedded in the child at a subconscious level.

That’s why you need to filter what your kid is watching in terms of TV shows, movies and cartoon. This will help shape an opinion about objects, surroundings, and people.

From a racial standpoint, children need to find people who look and talk like themselves on the screen so they can feel inclusive.

It’s no surprise then that Hollywood movies are increasingly featuring the eastern countries – especially China, India and Korea.

4. Using games and toys to talk about racism

As kids grow older and start attending school, they will meet kids of different race and ethnicities. That’s why it can be overwhelming for them to understand why other children appear different.

Here’s when you can use toys, and action figures to prepare them to be more inclusive. This will also require you to be the “woke” parent.

Ensure the action figures and other toys are from different ethnicities so your child is more accommodating in real life.

It is prejudices that we hardwire into children, passing on from one generation to another with no questions asked. It’s now time to make conscious efforts to change that.

Source: Mothership.sg


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