My Journey

How to Discuss Racism with your Children

Racism is still there and though not as prominent as before, there is plenty to suggest it’s growing in society. Needless to say, if we can stop the next generation being racist we can cut it out more-so in the future.

We asked Paris Williams of Hello Racist – a website used to expose racism in society – how he felt children could be aided in this manner. You can see his tips below.

How to Discuss Racism with your Children

How to Discuss Racism with your Children

Don’t hesitate to bring the issue of racism up.

For many parents, talking about race can be as hard to talk about as the birds and bees.  According to experts, this awkwardness is often due to not communicating about race during our own childhoods. It’s thought that many parents are concerned about saying something wrong and sounding racist when that isn’t what their intent is.  Also, at times parents have this naive belief that if they discuss race issues with their children, that it will cause them to start noticing race in ways that they didn’t previously.

Watch for teaching moments. 

Maybe you aren’t sure of how to get a conversation going?  One easy way in is if your child makes a comment about different skin colors.  Another gentle introduction is to read children’s books where race is discussed.  Or you can keep an eye out for subtle openings that come up in daily life.  One common tale that’s recounted is an experience with a 3-year-old.  The individual was cooking with his son and they used the final white egg that was in a carton.  When they took a different carton of eggs out of the refrigerator, they were brown eggs this time.  His son noticed that the eggs were a different color, and the man said yes they are.  Then when they cracked the two different eggs open, he showed his son how they were the same on the inside.  He said, just like people are different shades of color, but on the inside are the same.

Make sure to provide age-appropriate messages. 

Use concrete examples for pre-schoolers, such as the above egg example.  Even young children are able to understand when something isn’t fair (just think of all of the times that they cry “not fair” to you), so you can help to break down segregation or slavery for them by telling them how slavery occurred a long time ago, but that it is unfair to hold people captive and force them to work without paying them for it.  So slavery was ended, since so many people worked to get it changed because they thought it was very unfair.  Experts believes it is very important that it be emphasized that no racial group is completely all victims or all bad.  In the U.S., for example, there were white people who owned slaves, but there were also white people working against slavery.  At the same time, although black people were slaves, many resisted by helping other escape and running away themselves.  It is important to provide examples that show people working together.

Accept that prejudice remarks may occur – and that doesn’t necessarily mean that your child is a racist.

Don’t freak out if your child makes a remark that is questionable.  Children have a tendency to repeat things they hear other people saying, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your child actually believes it.  Ask your child questions such as what made you say that?  Dispute the prejudice attitude or stereotype gently, by providing your own experiences with groups of people or provide examples disputing stereotypes.

Be a good role model.

The best way of reducing any prejudices that your child might have is provide a model of a home that is inclusive and show that you have friends coming from all backgrounds.  Parents who lead multicultural lives and have connections with individuals who are different from them, are a lot more likely to have kids who are able to develop these critical life skills at young ages.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Hannah May 16, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    I remember the first time I had to have a discussion about this with my daughter. She was 3 years old and refused to sit next to a boy in Sunday School because he was “brown.” We talked about how every has different color eyes, hair, and skin and that’s okay.

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