Should my 7 year old be more PC?
I’m going to try to word this very carefully so as not to offend anyone as this can be quite sensitive stuff. By this I mean “diversity” and being PC. I was raised in a family where everyone was accepted – regardless of skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or ability. I was taught that I was equal to anyone else, no matter where they came from, what they had/had not, no matter what defining characteristics they might have.
During the peak of homophobia that AIDS created in the late 1980s, I remember my mum taking me to one side to tell me that a family member was gay, I was in my early teens and I clearly remember her insisting that there was nothing wrong with this, and that his relationship was as valid as hers and my dad’s marriage.
Since I became a parent I have tried to teach my children the same thing – we are all equal, regardless of labels that society might put on us, and we all deserve to be treated the same way.
We have books at home that illustrate these differences in society, in the hope that our children will be open-minded, tolerant and accepting.
Living in London, L is in a class with children from a variety of backgrounds, including Jewish and Muslim children (and no doubt other religions that I’m not aware of), and a third of her class are not white. I love this variety and what L can learn from mixing with children from different races, religions and cultures.
However, just recently, she has started to talk about “brown-skinned people”. Which brings me to my question – should my 7 year old be more PC? More to the point, what is the correct terminology these days? When I was growing up “coloured” had replaced “black”, and we still talked about “half-caste” people. After living in France for 12 years I’m not really sure what the correct vocabulary is these days, can anyone help me as I don’t want to offend? And should I be correcting L when she talks like this?
It seems to be used in a descriptive way, in the way she might talk about tall people, or people with blond hair, so it certainly doesn’t seem to be meant to be offensive, and I don’t want to make a big deal out of it if it isn’t a big deal.
The only thing is she seems to be generalising – which I don’t like (having listened to and been insulted by French people generalising about “les Anglais”) – saying things like “brown-skinned people are all cool/are all really good dancers”. Now whilst it’s positive, I still don’t like this grouping together; we’re all individuals who deserve to be treated equally.
So, what would you do? Is L being offensive? Should I talk to her? If so, what do I say? What are the correct terms? Or do I just let it be and see what happens? I would love advice from anyone who’s been through this or from anyone who feels they might be on the receiving end of her comments.
I apologise if I have offended anyone with this post, it has been incredibly difficult to write and to get my thoughts across clearly. Thanks for reading.