jump to last post 1-14 of 14 discussions (25 posts)

How do you deal with racist children and teenagers?

  1. SPomposello profile image80
    SPomposelloposted 5 years ago

    My wife and I are an interracial couple, I'm italian and she's black/spanish mixed, and we live in NY. So I pretty much have no issues when it comes to different races and people.

    I work at a job that involves dealing with kids and teens who have behavior-related issues, most of these kids are of black and spanish background and whenever they get out of line and I have to put them in their place, a couple of them may bring up the race issue and use it against me as ammunition. I know what you're probably thinking, racism towards white people? Don't we usually hear about it happening to black people? Well yes, it can happen to any race, including white people and it is STILL happening.

    This one spanish teenager tried to get my attention because he needed something and he kept saying "Hey white dude! White dude!", I told him that's not my name and kept ignoring him. How would he like it if I was like "Hey spanish boy! Spanish boy!", you know? I had a spanish girl ask me if I was from Massachusetts because of my skin color, then I had a black girl who kept debating that if you live in Manhattan that means you are white and if you live in the other boroughs you have darker skin color. Mind you, I don't live in Manhattan. These kids have it in their mind that all white people are rich.

    Most recently, I broke up this fight between two teenage boys, and this big black girl who is very rude and attention-seeking started to get completely disruptive, my co-workers and I were able to redirect her but then she started targeting me, calling me white trash and white mother ******. I was about to tell her "Excuse me, didn't you say you were a fan of Justin Bieber?" because I overheard babbling on about him the other day, but I said nah let me shut up and let it go.

    It's totally amazing how racist our "future" is, they're utilizing these stereotypes very well I must say. You know, my co-workers are mostly filipino, black, or spanish and we all get along just fine, no problems there. So I'm thinking either these kids are learning this crap from their parents or from their friends who have racist parents. Hmm...

    If it were you in this situation, how would you handle it and how would you respond?

    1. Evan G Rogers profile image84
      Evan G Rogersposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Racism can't go away because it's how people learn. The assimilation of new information into schema makes racism inevitable. Piaget and Vygotsky never came out and said this, but it IS implied (no matter how much my professors refused to address this issue when I was going through my graduate program in education).

      If they want to be racist to you, and your school has rules against racism, then simply remind them of the rules, discipline them accordingly, and remind them that YOU'VE never addressed THEM in such a disrespectful way.

      If your school does NOT have such rules (which is unlikely), then make them classroom rules. Be relentless in your enforcement of the rules, and be sure that YOU never break them.

      If the racism continues, make a big poster in the front with the rules and discipline and post it right in the front of the room. Whenever some breaks it, just point to it, and dish out the discipline. Become a robot.

      Treating kids like adults gets them to act like adults.

      Also, realize that some of the kids might just be... ignorant... Maybe some of their questions are honest!

      Anyway -- I'm going to take a lot of heat for this one -- the fact that schools have been forcefully desegregated (i.e., all black / all white schools are pretty much illegal) makes this kind of situation VERY common. The students wake up every morning and see nothing but white people teaching them how to be "white" (of course, that's not what the true goal is, but that's what they see). I was once told that Graeter's Ice Cream was "White people" ice cream -- of course it's nonsense, but that's what it looks like to students.

      In addition to this, many black people just can't become teachers -- a disproportional amount of blacks are poor, and college tuition ain't cheap. Teacher unions have made ridiculous requirements to become a teacher, and these requirements ain't cheap. 4 quarters at a good college for education (graduate degree) can cost over $25,000 (a year's salary); the numerous government -- (read: union) -- mandated tests a prospective teacher must take run $150 a pop (and there are many); and background checks are quite expensive as well.

      Anyway, I hope my advice helps, and I hope that my arguments have shed some light on the systemic problems facing education in the US.

      Just remember: Every day, they wake up and have to be told how to act by a bunch of "white" people.

      Oh - one last thing: your statement that "[racism] can happen to any race" reminds me of Chris Rock jokes, and the statements of my inner city students.

      Chris Rock: "Who's more racist: White people or black people? ... BLACK PEOPLE. Because the things that white people hate about black people, black people REALLY hate about black people!!!"

      My students: "Oh, she's a light skinned black, you can't listen to her"; "Oh, he likes the dark-skinned girls".... etc.

    2. 60
      Cimorghposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      It might be useful to take a historic perspective. Your students come from cultures that have experienced centuries of oppression and physical and emotional trauma governed by racism. So if they call you white dude, it is understandable. You are in the position of power and they are not, whether you like it or not. The way to address it is head on, take responsibility for history, for colonialism, without being a martyr. This will diffuse the tension. You need to shift the power differential and meet your students where they are. Two excellent essays to read: Sonia Nieto's Culture and Learning, and Adrienne Rich's essay Notes Toward A Politics of Location. Lastly, there is Vanessa Andreotti's Corn metaphor on p.4 of Actionable Post Colonial Theory. I am not say it is ok for your student to call you white but I can see where the need to do so comes from. Also it does not qualify as racism. Instead, your students are carrying race prejudice. Racism is race prejudice plus power  [See Racist]. People's Institute calls racism "the big foot that boots [people of color] in the rear and knocks you over." For more go to: http://www.antiracistworkshop.org/define/def.html

      1. IslandBites profile image86
        IslandBitesposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        I agree.

    3. 0
      Beth37posted 3 years ago in reply to this

      I belong to the most amazing church. The leadership is mainly African American. Our pastor's vision is to bring all races, incomes, abilities together to create a more loving and supportive society. We are all one big happy family here. I remember one week, looking up on stage and seeing these kids doing a special dance. There were kids from many different races, but also a little person and a child in a wheel chair and I became so emotional at what a beautiful sight this was. Here's a link. The pastor's sermons are under "media" if you'd like to hear him speak. He's an amazing speaker.


      1. A Troubled Man profile image60
        A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        But, only if those who want to join your "loving and supportive society" must implicitly accept Jesus, or it's no show. It may not be racist, but it certainly is bigotry.

        1. 0
          Beth37posted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Nope, anyone can join and be accepted and loved... you included.

          1. A Troubled Man profile image60
            A Troubled Manposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            You and I both know that isn't true

            1. 0
              Beth37posted 3 years ago in reply to this

              Then come for a visit.
              I don't know what kind of churches you've been to in the past, but you would not be turned away.

    4. rhamson profile image77
      rhamsonposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      You are in a tough situation. Racism is a learned trait either through parents or peer pressure. People who are subject to this usually have little or no education outside of where they learned it. Years and years of training these kids up in it will not be easily erased.

      I lived outside the country and went to a school where I was the only white male student. I formerly went to a predominantly white school in this country to this situation. I found that the people I was relating too in school wanted to learn more about America and I about their society and culture. The more I opened myself up to our common interests I discovered they opened up to me. Pretty soon we discovered we felt much the same about human relationships and our hopes and fears were very much the same.

      If you were to express yourself to these kids in more of an open exchange of thoughts and ideas, you may be able to get them to respond in more of an open relationship which might thaw some of the stereotypical bull*#@t that fostered their racial prejudices. Try to find common ground to base it. It might be music, movies, historic figures. Anything that you might have a shared respect for. Believe it of not mine was soccer. Prepare to get your feelings hurt by the ones who will have none of it. But you may get through to one kid and that may spawn a difference.

  2. Ben Evans profile image73
    Ben Evansposted 5 years ago

    Racism persists and there is not much we can do about it.

    We are taught to look at the differences between people.

    We not only look at race but we look at:

    Age, gender, religion, life styles, strata, etc.

    We find ways to differentiate ourselves from others.  We can't change other's opinions.  We can only change our own thoughts and when we do we have to look at people as an individuals and treat them that way.

    However, most of the time people cant get beyond the label that they put on others.  They don't have a chance to see the good that is in others.  They see...........snob, dirty, unhealthy, non-trustworthy, mean, derilect, scarry, coniving, etc.....Those are just a few labels we attach to others.  Once attached the negative connotation prevails and we have no chance of actually seeing the individuality of the other person.

    Unfortunately, we cant change the views of others but we can change ours.

  3. Jonathan Janco profile image81
    Jonathan Jancoposted 5 years ago

    Racists are people who are simply dissociated or disintegrated with the commonality of all. They look for separateness rather than wholeness. It is the same drama with people who make lots of money and then think they are better than those who dont. It is a problem of their own choice and making. No need to make it your own.

  4. recommend1 profile image70
    recommend1posted 5 years ago

    This is nothing to do with racism - it is all about teenage behaviour.  They will insult you with anything they think will affect you, if you had not reacted at some point to racist abuse then they would have called you gay, or a child abuser, or . . . .any other perceived weakness.   The real problem is that you have not learned how to bend like a reed in the wind of abuse  big_smile

    1. SPomposello profile image80
      SPomposelloposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Well, I think it's a form of racism that they are using. Like you said, they look for things to bother you, if you're not their race then they'll use that, if they're straight and you like guys, they'll use that.

  5. Dame Scribe profile image61
    Dame Scribeposted 5 years ago

    I have run into this problem with my own 2 sons. They would return from school with reports of FN students getting blamed for starting fights, many a time hmm I would tell them that only by their own positive behavior - they can set a good example and gain respect. I would suggest some sort of project for themselves on how to combat racism or activity that builds/reveals benefits of teamwork.

  6. 0
    Emile Rposted 5 years ago

    I believe that a lot of times teenagers aren't so much being racist, but attempting to elicit a negative response from an authority figure; and one or two of your examples do sound more like ignorance than racism.

    The best thing you can do, no matter what the cause, is like another poster said; lay down the ground rules for conduct and hold firmly to them. And never let the kids think they've upset you. It will simply goad them to do it again.

    1. SPomposello profile image80
      SPomposelloposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      As I was telling the other poster, it's ignorance but in the form of racism. If I were black and they were white, it would basically be the same thing as them saying "Hey blackie, come over here!" or "F--- you, you black n****** mother f******". The cursing is one thing, but the fact that they're including the race aspect in their negative remarks adds a racist side to it all.

  7. 0
    Home Girlposted 5 years ago

    I think it's a part of human nature, we dislike people who are different, and if we are angry, we can quickly point it out. I've been called "white trash" too... And I stole jobs from Canadian people(!?!) I think if you are a teacher you should simply ignore such outbursts,they are usually just indicators of some other problems with this person who is so angry with your color. Better talk one on one if it's possible and find out what really bothers this kid.

  8. KK Trainor profile image60
    KK Trainorposted 5 years ago

    I have been there too, having worked as a substitute teacher for several years. I took the abuse not only of being "the sub", but also for being white in mostly hispanic and black classrooms. They are often raised to see white adults as racists, which in itself is pretty racist. It always offended me because I was just there to get them to do their work, without regard for their skin color, but they felt that pushing buttons was more fun.

    You are never going to teach them more about race than their friends and parents do every night at home, but you can teach them about respect. Just keep being respectful of them and eventually they will figure out that you are a decent person. Set the example, hard as it is while you're being harrassed. Even if they never tell you, they'll know deep down that you're who they want to emulate, and they may even remember it some day when someone talks trash to them.

  9. SPomposello profile image80
    SPomposelloposted 5 years ago

    These are some pretty good responses and I'm glad to see everyone's different views on this. Oh and just to sort out some confusion, it's not a school that I work at, it's a facility that handles kids who have behavior-related problems and conditions like aggression, ADHD, bipolar, and so forth. It's a short-term place that treats kids with those kind of issues. We have a thing with the rules posted but it's not like they follow them, you have to keep reminding them. It's partly the environment and neighborhood they grew up in that doesn't help, you know.

  10. SpanStar profile image61
    SpanStarposted 5 years ago

    The teenage years are the most rebellious years and I am not certain I have a perfect solution for that situation but perhaps here is something you might consider.

    If you can bring in rival factions such as a former Ku Klux Klan member and a former Black Panther member together in the same room with these teenagers expressing their point of view as to the futility of their bias actions  just might help to dispel the stereotypes these teenagers carry around with them.

  11. Rafini profile image80
    Rafiniposted 5 years ago

    Education is the key.

    Do you work at an 'in-house' type facility?  Or is it a drop-in center for the teens?  What type of time-frame do you typically have with them? 

    This is a difficult situation...depending on how much time you have with these teens determines what you're able to expose them to.  But, I still say Education.  Choose a form and go with it, try something else if it doesn't work. 

    What you're going for is to teach them Diversity, and Respect.  You're also going to want them to accept Positive Possibilities for their Future. 

    Something I'm thinking of is...expose these teens to successful people of their own race (but not sports starts, celebrities, rappers, or government employees)  Go for people who've made a difference in the world.  (Reader's Digest has, in the past, published profiles on people such as this)  It could be something as simple as a homeless Hispanic who saved a white family from their burning home.  Anything inspirational that crosses color/race/economic barriers. 

    Good luck, hope it works out for you.

  12. kiera305 profile image59
    kiera305posted 3 years ago via iphone

    Ask them to justify why they think that way. It might make you think. I think the word racist is way too over rated. I have been accused of being racist but in actual fact I don't believe I am. Something that may sound racist to one person may not sound racist to another. Pointing out a fact is not being racist. The person sounding racist will more than likely have the same opinion of a particular type of person of their own race but they just word it differently.

  13. prettydarkhorse profile image63
    prettydarkhorseposted 3 years ago

    That is difficult because racism is a learned behavior, so it can be traced to the family and social upbringing of the youth. Racism can never be eradicated, it can be minimized.

    people live their lives being racist, they need to go out more and expand their horizon. I am always a victim of it just because of the color of my skin, brown.

  14. SpanStar profile image61
    SpanStarposted 3 years ago

    Wow, you are dealing with a number of issues here not just race. The fact that these are teenagers speaks to the idea that they are already rebellious. Their ideas are perception of racism can come from a number of sources such as the media when we address issues such as the Zimmerman and Trayvon tragic death, or some of these school shootings which has plagued America.

    How I would deal with it:

    I would bring together those students who are particularly disruptive and put together a program outlining the history of those people who have suffered under the tyranny of bigotry and hatred. There have been a number of people who have stood proud in the face of hatred and most likely some of those people will be the same ethnicity as some of those students.