My Son's Called African and I'm Upset; Why?

A child's taunt reminds one parent how difficult it is to teach your kids about race.

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Without that, dark-skinned children and their sympathetic light-skinned peers are intellectually defenseless in the face of divisive taunts. When a Cambridge-bred boy is teased for being African, he and his peers should be able to laugh at the absurdity of the remark. It is when they cannot recognize this absurdity that "African" becomes a dirty word.

Claudine Gay is a professor of African and African-American studies and government at Harvard.

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