What are some examples of Atticus teaching Jem and Scout that skin color doesn't matter in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Examples of Atticus teaching Jem and Scout that skin color doesn't matter in To Kill a Mockingbird include that he is not offended when others call him a "nigger-lover" and feels that such ugly language is a reflection of the hatefulness of the people who speak it. He values Calpurnia, treats her like part of the family, and makes sure that his children respect and listen to her.

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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus teaches his children that skin color does not matter through both his words and his actions.

In chapter 11, Scout asks Atticus if he is a "nigger-lover." He tells her that he tries to love all people and treat them equally: "I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody." Atticus is not offended by the name he is called. He teaches Scout that such language is a reflection of the hatefulness of the people who use it.

Atticus leads by example in teaching his children that color does not matter. He does not treat Calpurnia as an employee, but as a loved and valued member of the family—a sentiment which, unfortunately, is not common during the setting of the novel. In chapter 3, Scout is angry at Calpurnia and asks Atticus to fire her. He replies,

I've no intention of getting rid of her, now or ever. We couldn't operate a single day without Cal, have you ever thought of that? You think about how much Cal does for you, and you mind her, you hear?

Atticus reminds Scout that Calpurnia is an important part of the family and he demands that his children respect and obey her.

Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson, despite the personal consequences and damage to his reputation. He explains his choice to Scout:

This case, Tom Robinson's case, is something that goes to the essence of a man's conscience—Scout, I couldn't go to church and worship God if I didn't try to help that man.

Atticus teaches his children not to treat people differently because of skin color, and he also teaches them to hold their ground and stick to their beliefs no matter what anyone else says or does. When Atticus is harassed by many members of the town for defending Tom, Atticus does not waver in his beliefs or in his actions and continues to help Tom in any way he can.

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In chapter 11, Atticus makes Jem read to Mrs. Dubose as punishment for destroying her camellia bushes, and Scout asks her father if he is a "nigger-lover." Atticus responds by telling Scout,

"I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody… I’m hard put, sometimes—baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you" (Lee, 112).

Atticus's response to being called a racial slur is one example of how he attempts to teach his children that race does not matter. Atticus is not ashamed to be associated with black people, regardless of the community's negative perception of him.

Following the Tom Robinson trial, Atticus has an enlightening conversation with Jem regarding the corrupt court system in Maycomb. When Jem argues that they should completely do away with juries, Atticus elaborates on the nature of the court system. Atticus tells Jem,

"In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life" (Lee, 224).

When Jem continues to argue with Atticus, he proceeds to tell his son,

"As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash" (Lee, 224).

Atticus is straightforward with his children when he refers to prejudiced people, who take advantage of black men, as trash. Atticus's comment is another example of how he encourages his children to exercise tolerance and treat everyone equally regardless of race.

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Atticus' style of teaching his children is not always direct. Instead he likes to teach them through his own actions. Therefore, in the book there is no lengthy discourse that Atticus gives to show the evils of racism, even though he does correct his children. For instance, Atticus does not want his children to use the word "nigger."

“Nothing,” Jem said. “Ask Atticus, he’ll tell you.”

“Do you defend niggers, Atticus?” I asked him that evening.

“Of course I do. Don’t say nigger, Scout. That’s common.”

“‘s what everybody at school says.”

“From now on it’ll be everybody less one—”

The indirect but powerful way in which Atticus teaches his children about race is twofold.

First, Atticus defends Tom Robinson when it was a very unpopular thing to do. Atticus not only put his reputation on the line, but also his personal safety. When a mob came to harm Tom Robinson, they would have also probably harmed Atticus if Scout had not been there. 

Second, Atticus employed Calpurnia. In many ways she was like a mother to Scout and Jem. This was a radical thing to do. This is why Alexandra was so shocked that Atticus allowed Calpunia to be like family. 

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