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Talking to kids about race



How non-black parents can promote racial awareness in their children

Promote racial awareness in your children


Black Americans have to explain to their children why they can’t play with a toy gun, ride a bike alone down the block, put their hands in their pockets at a store. Children of all races are bombarded with messages affirming white privilege, whether they are aware of it or not. WorkingMother.com describes what non-black parents can say to their kids to help them grow up with an awareness of how skin color affects people's lives.

Toddlers

When your child asks about a person's skin tone, a good response is “It's great that there are so many different kinds of people in the world.” Bring your child into social situations with people of color. If your community lacks diversity, bring home books and magazines featuring different ethnic groups. Make racial differences a normal, accepted part of life.

Elementary school

When talking about racism, emphasize concepts of fairness and empathy. Describe how racism treats people unfairly because of skin color and how protests happen when people care about others' suffering and want to make a change. If you're participating in a Black Lives Matter protest, explain why and take your child along.

READ MORE: Teaching about racism

Middle school

Social media and schoolmates bring many attitudes to children's attention, but they don't always report what they're hearing. Watch or listen to news reports with your child and comment on what's happening and why. Teach your child to think critically about what they hear. When they are exposed to reports about race and violence, place current events in historical context to provide a deeper understanding.

READ MORE: Where do children learn racial bias?

High school

As kids are exploring ways to define their identity, they may join in with hate speech or talk of ethnic stereotypes. Stay calm and keep lines of communication open but make it clear that you don't approve. Counter the oversimplification of stereotypes by pointing out nuances.

Publisher’s note: Consciously bringing the subject of diversity into our homes, will help us understand our own bias towards others.  

If your child wants to take action against racism, offer your support. Living in a world of injustice can feel hopeless. Assertive action, with a group of like-minded people, brings a sense of empowerment.



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