Image courtesy of Pinterest.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbury. These are some of the many recent names that are victims of police brutality. One of which is Tamir Rice, who was no more than 12 years old when he died. His age should signal to you that this is an issue that involves conversations with your kids. Race is a social construct mess just does not suffice. Race, through instances like this, become a real thing that people discriminate from. These names circulate and your kids are bound to ask questions. If they do not ask, be proactive to frame what is going on before the hate around us shapes their mind. Parents are often the first resource that children go to for information or they are the filter to distinguish their morality.
This article intends to be a resource for parents of Black and Brown children. This niche topic is necessary because all the book lists on social media and major news sources cater to the anti-racist work that parents need to instill in White children. That is great, but there are not as many resources that break down how to approach these conversations that affect Black and Brown children. If they do not see the news or hear conversations, they will experience what their skin signals to people, from prejudice from adults to how their friends pick their playmates. Therefore, these conversations are crucial to initiate your children to the world that they live in.
We provide for you, in this article, many entry points to start the conversation about race and unfortunate realities that the world is composed of. We understand that you want to coax your child and protect their innocence, but without these conversations you do a disservice by not preparing them for the world they live in. In this post we discuss with you the following:
According to Afiya Mbilishaka, a D.C.-based clinical psychologist and professor, in the New York Times, by ten-years-old kids have a complex conception of social status and race relations. Are you looking for the universe to drop hints of when to start the conversation about race with your kids? If so, there are many entry points to this dialogue. For instance, one that many parents use is talking about why kids cannot play with their kids’ hair at school. It shows that these conversations should be as routine and mundane as wrapping your child’s hair before bed or them learning how to act. Talking about racial differences before approaching the legacy of racism in this country is an approachable way or talking about what it means to be Black or Brown in America.
Other conversation starters are through their own school material, have these conversations through the art and drawing that your kid makes (how do they represent their family and people of color?), commenting on what you are watching on tv in that moment, and asking kids what they notice about the news first and approach it as an inquiry-based dialogue methodology (that’s just fancy speak for asking them what they know and interject knowledge about navigating race). This is an easy way to find out how your child views the world and how you can allow them to have a broader worldview. Oftentimes kids will relate race to what they know in simpler terms—so and so does not get in trouble for what they do, I always take the fall because they say I look suspicious, and I don’t know why. That can illustrate the interplay of race and privilege in their daily life that they somewhat comprehend.
During the childhood of many millennials and early Gen Zers include books like Pink and Say, Tar Beach, Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky, Happy to Be Nappy, and many others. Now, how do you find the books to inform your kids that fit the times? You can rely on the classics or lists like these: “Looking for Excellent “Diverse” Books for Children?,” and “Unity, Kindness, and Peace Reading List,” “Children’s Books About Race and Diversity.” Books are great resources to explore identity, difference, privilege, and provide a moral compass. They allow people to ‘step into the shoes’ of characters and emotionally invested in plot exposition. We hope that you can continue the conversation at your tray tables at the tv, your dining room, while your kids are working on homework, or your kid knocks on your door to ask a question. We recognize that these conversations are critical, so we applaud you for engaging in this journey to plant seeds of knowledge and self-preservation in this society.