I’m going to ask an honest question and I would really like some feedback. Civil, kind and reflective feedback.
In America, we are taught that failure is disgraceful. Furthermore, if you are a person of color, failing is NOT an option. Black Americans are mostly taught from a young age that you have to be ten times better than your white American counterpart. Hispanic Americans are mostly taught that you have to work harder, work smarter and lift your race along the way. Asian Americans are mostly told they have to be perfect. That’s a lot of pressure.
Now they’ve introduced the Growth Mindset (as pioneered by Carol Dweck) in schools and it has encouraged kids to learn how to fail early and accept failure because it does happen often. They have introduced this mindset in schools to prevent kids from epic emotional meltdowns later in life. I think this is a good thing, yet there is a sticking point that I have to mentally explore.
… What happens to the children of color? Failing without a support system to help you get back up to “try again” is catastrophic to a person of color (especially a Black kid) in America. Many Black Americans are living just above, at or below the poverty line. If learning to fail leads to enriched experiences, but there is no fiscal, academic and mental health system to support your rebound so you can process these life lessons – then you can never fail. If you do fail as a person of color, nine times out of then failure is the beginning of your own obliteration by American standards.
So who then is allowed to fail, learn from their mistakes, regroup and then thrive from the lessons learned during said failure?
And as a Boomer, GenX or Xennial parent of color raising children of color – are you comfortable enough to embrace failure in yourself and your child?
I will say honestly, I’m so terribly uncomfortable with failure. I see myself as a failure because of less than stellar choices I made when I was younger and during my early 30’s. I felt real anxiety watching the Will Smith video because I was taught NOT to fail. The times I did fail – I failed sooooooooooooooooo hard that it changed the course of my life in every direction. It hurt. It killed my finances. It made me doubt myself. It made people look at me as if I was “less than”.
I don’t want that for my kid. Ever. In this world, on Mars, no where in the universe do I want my child to feel or be crushed by the blow of failure like I did. … I know completely unrealistic but well – that’s me sometimes. Not apologizing one bit.
SO I’M ASKING SOME OF YOU PARENTS OUT THERE… PLEASE ENGAGE ME, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT FAILURE? ARE YOU WILLING TO EMBRACE IT TO FURTHER YOUR CHILD’S EVOLUTION EVEN IN A SOCIETY THAT STILL HAS SYSTEMATIC DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES IN PLACE TO CAUSE YOUR KID (children of color) TO FAIL?
To learn more about the Growth Mindset, you can use these resources:
- MindsetWorks: https://www.mindsetworks.com/science
- Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUWn_TJTrnU
- Fixed vs Growth – The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset
- Carol Dweck, “Developing a Growth Mindset”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiiEeMN7vbQ