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It's Not All Black and White: Dealing With Racism

There is perhaps no issue as delicate in the modern American psyche as that of racism.  Though we are a melting pot of people from all countries, we still often find it difficult to honor our own culture, respect those of others and blend the two together all at the same time.  Because this is such a complex issue, I am not even going to attempt to solve it here.  Instead, I will merely offer a few thoughts on helping our kids navigate these often treacherous waters to a more peaceful world.

First, remember what Martin Luther King said about judging others "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  Teach your teens to evaluate their friends not by their skin tone but by the tone of their lives.   This means that they will neither shun nor seek out someone just because they are different, but will instead accept and embrace anyone from any background who shares their values and goals.

Next, be honest with your teens about your own feelings on the subject of race, even if you are not always proud of them.  It’s OK if you sometimes struggle with accepting people from cultures different from yours.  Most people do.  The important thing is that we do struggle to be and do better than we have in the past.

Finally, help your teen cope when he is the victim of some sort of prejudice, whether it is because of the color of his skin or his native language.  Make sure he understands that others do not define him unless he allows them to.  Encourage him to forgive others for their ignorance and instead turn his anger into something positive by letting it drive him forward to being the best person he can be.

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