Talking to Your Children About Race

Lately, our lives have been impacted by COVID with new work at home and home-school schedules. In the midst of this new normal is the significant impact of the death of George Floyd has had on each of us. Your children are bound to have questions. Why did the police officer kill this man?  Why are people marching and protesting?   How do you explain the issues impacting the national conversation right now with your little ones?  Are they even subjects they will understand?

The answer is, yes. They will understand, and no children are not too young to have discussions about race and social justice. If you are like many other parents, you may be perplexed on how to begin that conversation. The good news is that there are so many resources across the internet to assist with these conversations.

  1. The Children’s Community School of Philadelphia states “Young children notice and think about race. Adults often worry that talking about race will encourage racial bias in their children, but the opposite is true. Silence about racism reinforces racism by allowing children to draw their own conclusions about what they see. Families can play a powerful role in helping children of all ages develop positive attitude about race and diversity, if only we have the conversation” They have developed resources that can be found here: They’re Not Too Young to Talk About Race

  2.  Ashia Ray at Raising Luminaries believes acknowledging racial differences is the first step in empowering our children to feel proud of who they are, acknowledge our differences, and know there is a duty and responsibility to speak up against injustices. However, for many white families, Ray acknowledges it may be difficult to begin these conversations. She suggests starting with non-conversational actions, such as reading books that show racial and ethnic diversity. We have compiled a list further along in this post.Raising Race Conscious Children has compiled a list of 100 Race Conscious Things you Can Say to Your Child to Advance Racial Justice  that include ideas such as having proactive discussions about race. Sachi Ferris of Raising Race Conscious Children discussed a situation with her daughter while reading a book and discussing “black” and “white” and how skin tones aren’t really “black” or “white” but various shades of brown, pink, and cream. Crayola’s new skin tone coloring set may be a good tool to help begin that conversation. 

  3. Mia McKenzie at Black Girls Are Dangerous suggests having conversations with your older children about media representation of black people. She believes that children should be taught to recognize the images and stories the media tells and doesn’t tell, and identify where those narrative gaps are. Dialogue with your older children with news events and ask them if they believe the portrayals they are being shown are accurate to what they have seen and heard, and point out the differences in headlines and language used to describe people of color vs. white people and make sure they understand the motives behind them.
     
  4. Here Wee Read has an extensive list of children’s books that promote diversity, teach children about experiences other than their own, and hopefully can create avenues for discussion.

  5. There are also a few great podcasts released this week addressing this issue from both the child and parent perspectives. Kojo for Kids, a podcast dedicated to talking about issues with children, addressed racism and the protests in this weeks podcast.  NPR re-released a 2019 Podcast, Talking Racism with Your Kids, and See On Radio has just released a full 10 episode series  Seeing White.


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