If you repeat a word too many times, it begins to lose its meaning. Try it. Say racism two hundred times. At the end of it, do you know what you’ve been saying? This is happening in schools. Kids who grew up with these words floating around have heard them so many times, they’ve become a running joke.

In an actual high school chess club, this happened:

Kid 1 and Kid 2 were setting up a game. Kid 1 asked politely, “Would you like to be white?”

Kid 2 huffed, “Do I look white to you?” A few eyebrows raised, and a few grins.

“Fine, you’re black then,” Kid 1 conceded.


And everyone laughed about it good-naturedly.

Sure, it seems trite, but underneath the jokes and laughs, there seems to be a problem. Awareness is important, but what have we really been teaching kids? There seems to be a step missing here.