Let’s not forget that white children learn to be racist from their parents

Just like they are more likely to pass down wealth (property, money, etc.) to their kids, so too are white people more likely to pass down racism. The kids learn from the grown-ups, and that’s a fact even today, because plenty of racists have kids right now. And it’s why the pipedream of racism dying out with the passing of older generations is simply a pipedream.

By now, a lot of America should know the white woman named Corinne Terrone, thanks to social media. I suppose we could call her “Spittin’ Sally.” On Friday, March 15th, the now-former secretary who had been an employee for Hamden Public Schools in Connecticut, decided that she was going to teach her two little girls how to be racist.

Most white people have been in denial for centuries about the racist systems of America that are designed to disadvantage Black people. They claim that Black citizens are treated equally and that we, as a community, should just get over the impacts of white supremacy. The generational standards for how to treat Black people were created by the white race over 400 years ago and are still alive and active today in 2019. Is that unbelievable to you? Are you shocked that white people like “Spittin’ Sally” are still on the mission to destroy Black bodies? If so, why? No, really—ask yourself “why?” How are white American citizens are still shocked when Black people are subjected to racism when we only became “free” 54 years ago?

If you’re surprised when whiteness makes its attack on Black people in any form, you’re confirming that Black lives don’t matter to you. It means that you’re under the impression that Black people are good to go now and that we have absolutely nothing to worry about in regards to our skin color. It means that you thought that anti-blackness was all over and that concept, in itself, denies the Black experience. It is white people like Corinne Terrone who reminds us that anti-blackness is still very prevalent throughout America. 

Being that New England covers both Maine where I live and Connecticut where “Spittin’ Sally” prowls, I felt the need to address the lessons that the Connecticut ShopRite-mother taught her two little girls that day in the grocery store. White people teach their children how to be racist both privately and publicly. Or even how not to treat Black people—literally—teaching their kids to ignore us as if we’re invisible. And you don’t get off the hook because you’re a quiet, non-racist individual, tucking racism in your back pocket and not talking about it. If that’s what you’ve decided to do, then clearly you remain problematic to the cause for Black liberation and dismantling white supremacy.

Without hesitating, Corinne Terrone felt the need to teach her two little girls, indirectly, how to treat Black people. And she did it publicly without hesitations; other white parents teach their children racism privately. The two little girls watched their mother call a Black man and woman, a n****r several times. It’s no secret that children learn behaviors from their parents, let alone the world around them.So what exactly did Corinne Terrone teach her children that day? She taught those two little white girls that because they’re white, they have the advantage of throwing fits of rage in public spaces without facing any of the life-threatening repercussions like Black people do, when we express even a hint of frustration.

In addition to Corinne Terrone calling two Black people n****rs in front of her two little girls, she decided to elevate her dose of fury by spitting at the Black shoppers, twice! The examples that “Spittin’ Sally” displayed in front of those girls have permeated their brains with the level of respect that they should treat Black people with. Those girls have been programmed. It’s possible they will break that programming one day—maybe even possible they won’t internalize it even now. But honestly, that isn’t likely and it isn’t the norm. 

The deadly poison that white supremacy continues to spread through America not only seeks to destroy Black people, but impacts whiteness itself. Over and over again, white supremacy shows that it simply does not give a fuck about who it hurts, oppresses, assaults, disrespects, robs or dehumanizes. How will those two little white girls process and internalize their racist mother’s behavior towards Black people? How will those two little girls socialize with Black people in society? school? work? etc? Who will teach them that their mother is a racist and what that means? Will they do better as girls who will one day grow up to be white women in America? White voters? White citizens? Or will the daughters of “Spittin’ Sally” harbor the same feelings in their hearts that their mother does about Black people? Will they one day spit at Black people and call them niggers? Who will teach them that they’re not superior based on their whiteness? That they may catch a different type of Black person one day who may not be as nice as the Black people were to their mother?

Authorities have said that charges could be pressed against the mother for “impairing the morals of children,” but let’s face it—whiteness corrupts the morals of individuals inevitably when it comes to culture and society. If your whiteness has not been reckoned with, then you remain a huge part of the racial injustices in our country. And if that is the case, your silence about the disease of whiteness and generational hate passed down for centuries is more deadly than acknowledging that you play a role in sustaining racist systems structured to neglect the Black race, in addition to significantly benefiting from these systems. 

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3 thoughts on “Let’s not forget that white children learn to be racist from their parents”

  1. Yes. Corinne Terrone is an egregious example of a violent, overtly racist woman who is explicitly teaching anti-Blackness to her children. Many of us also teach racism and perpetuate the continuation of white supremacist systems through our *implicit* behaviors and attitudes — and especially, as you note, our silence in the face of racism.

    As you note, it’s also important to recognize that even children raised in homes that *don’t* model racist attitudes and behaviors develop racial bias. We can preach equality and “people are all the same despite our differences,” yet our children will still be exposed to anti-Blackness — through media, through what they observe in wider society, spoken and unspoken. In fact, research demonstrates that children’s racial attitudes are even more influenced by the dominant culture than by parents.

    It’s never enough to just *not* be racist. White people have to be actively *anti-racist.* Our children need permission and language to say what they already see. Children notice racial differences by age six months, and even as three- and four-year-olds, they notice that people are segregated by race, that certain people have certain kinds of jobs, that negative images of certain groups appear in all the media they consume — while other groups don’t appear at all, that some groups of people come to dinner and others don’t… They need context to understand the structural ways in which people are advantaged and disadvantaged by race, and that racism isn’t just “people being mean.”

    When white parents are silent on matters of race, we are abandoning our children to the attitudes and norms of the dominant culture — and I don’t know anyone who thinks that’s a good idea.

  2. … at least this slut got caught and then fired. I wonder if this is correlated with the data that shows that America’s most active KKK’s are located just north of New Haven, CT ?

  3. While what this woman did was reprehensible, calling the woman a “slut” is an ad hominem attack that only serves to distract from the excellent points made by the author. Your opinion of her sexual promiscuity is irrelevant and harmful to victims of sexual abuse.

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