Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Teaching Our White Kids About Racism

A Step-By-Step Guide to

Teaching our White Kids About Racism:

  { Jump to:

 1. Getting Oriented

2. Exploring Racial Diversity  } 

Like many white parents, I've spent these past few weeks teetering between hope and anxiety as I’ve watched Black America crying out for change, and I wonder what sort of future we will pass on to our children.

Will this be the year we listen? Will we finally work together to transform our policies and business practices and personal habits to dismantle the racism embedded in them? Will we finally act?

But as I tried to do better in my own life at speaking out, stepping up, calling my government reps, and otherwise supporting this 400-year cry for racial equity, I also keep coming back around to the same question:

How do we make sure our kids don’t repeat our mistakes?

I’ve had conversations with my kids about some of these issues before, but I knew I needed to do more. The problem? There's so much to say. Where do we begin? What are the most important things we need to teach our kids about race and racism? How do we talk about this in language they can understand?  How do we give this issue the emphasis it deserves rather than skimming over it? How do we teach them not only what racism is, but how to dismantle it? What am I forgetting? Are my kids too young for this? Where do I even start???  

It can feel overwhelming to talk to our kids about race. But I don’t think it has to.

Over the years, I've done a fair amount of research, both for my PhD and my novel writing, about racism, racial inequities, and the need for change. Now that I have two small children of my own, I know how important it is to teach them about this, and how important it is to start early. But I also know ... (like really really know) ... how hard it is to find time to do this, how tricky it is to do this abstractly without concrete visual aids like books or videos, and how difficult it can be to find the ideal books and videos you need for young children to springboard these discussions.

This guide breaks down the process step-by-step.

I don't want complexity or uncertainty or lack of resources to stop any of us from having these important conversations about race and racism with our kids. So I designed this as a step-by-step, conversation-by-conversation sequence that we can follow to make sure we are having all of these very necessary discussions about race with our young children.

In each section, I’ve included: (1) an intro for parents, (2) a “script” we can read aloud to our kids if we’re having trouble finding the right words, and (3) links to videos, picture books, read-alouds, and other resources we can use both to introduce the topics and to delve more deeply into them. Keep in mind that a few of the activities and conversations about skin color are geared primarily toward sighted people, so these may need a tweak or two if you and/or your child are visually impaired.

I made this for me, and I made this for us. This is a work in progress, so let me know if you notice anything that needs fixing, or if you know of amazing resources I’ve missed and should add.

Okay, now let’s roll up our sleeves and do the work!

Table of Contents
You can start wherever you need, but the concepts will probably make the most sense to your kiddos if you start in Chapter 1 and work through sequentially. If you have only very young children (infants and toddlers), you’ll want to focus on Chapters 1-3: Exploring and Celebrating Racial & Cultural Diversity.

Once your kids are in Pre-K - 6, and can communicate more fully about complex concepts, you’ll be able to move onto more explicitly discussing racism, fairness, and activism (Chapters 4 - 6).

Note: I don’t have all the chapters completed yet, but you will be able to find them all linked here once I do.  <3

1. Getting yourself Oriented

(Parents-only section)

a. Individual vs. Systemic Racism

b. Is it too early to talk to my kids about race?

c. The danger of teaching kids to be ‘colorblind’

d. Optional: do a bias-check

2. Exploring Racial Diversity

a. What race am I?


b. Why do people have different skin colors?


c. Different families, cultures, & traditions


d. Learn about your family history

3. Celebrating Diversity

a. The Beauty of Difference

b. Different on the Outside, Same on the Inside

c. Diverse Communities

d. Choosing Diverse Toys, Books, and Media

e. Pointing Out Lack of Diversity

f. Dismantling Color Associations


4. Examining America’s History of Racism

a. Where Our Family Came From

b. White Settlers and Native Americans

c. Slavery

d. Abolishing Slavery 

e. Civil Rights & Standing Up For What’s Right


5. Seeking Fairness & Equity

a. What is Racism?

b. Fairness & Equity

c. Luck of Birth

d. Impact vs. Intent

e. Unintended Consequences

f. Systemic Racism

g. Racism in Current Events

h. Racism in Books, TV, and Movies

i. Racism in Everyday Talk & Action

j. When your Kiddo Says Something Racist


6. Do Something! Kid-Friendly Activism

a. Empathy Building

b. Being an Includer

c. Standing up to Bullies

d. Microaggressions

e. Civic Engagement

f. Activism: Protests, Campaigns, and Art


Let's Get Started >>


Here are some of the resources I found most helpful when compiling this guide.


Talking Racism with White Kids is Not Enough - TIME







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