Dr. David Briscoe, professor of sociology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, recently kicked off the Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity’s lecture series, Plain Talk on Race and Ethnicity, with his presentation of “How Can Black Parents Rear Their Children to Be Black Americans in a Color Conscious Society?”
During his 30-minute presentation on March 29, Briscoe spoke about the importance of parenting and how black parents must go above and beyond the basics of raising their children to assure that they become well-rounded, functional beings that are equipped with the necessary tools to survive in the societal jungle in which they live.
“Black parents have to protect their children from all of the dangers that other parents are concerned about, but they have the added challenge of protecting their children from internalizing the host of the external messages that tell them almost on a daily basis that they’re not good enough, that they are too violent, that they aren’t smart enough, not pretty enough, not as valuable as other children, or that black lives don’t matter,” Briscoe said. “As black children internalize these messages, they become part of the child’s personality and self-identity.”
According to Briscoe, America has long had issues in the field of human relations.
“Sociologist Robin Williams indicates that one of the core values of American society is brute superiority,” Briscoe said. “He puts emphasis on the fact that the country is bent toward race, and that there are racism issues prevalent in this society.”
The ideology of superiority and inferiority have been woven into the fabric of American culture and society, despite the perpetuation of liberty and justice for all, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble of the United States Constitution, and the Pledge of Allegiance, Briscoe said.
Because of these factors, Briscoe strongly suggested that black parents inform their children of the historical, legal, political, social, and economic climates that black Americans have and continue to experience almost daily that are relative to race and the color barrier.
In addition to addressing America’s history and societal messages, Briscoe also challenged black parents to hold a mirror to themselves and come to terms with who they are as black Americans. He believes that if they don’t recognize the challenges they’ve faced as black individuals, they would have a hard time trying to resocialize and reshape the thoughts and attitudes of their children.
Following the lecture, the floor was opened for discussion, and the questions came pouring in. This led to an intense dialogue between several students and guests, which was addressed by Chancellor Emeritus Joel Anderson as being “much needed.”