Over the past month I’ve learned a lot of things.
- ‘Star Force’ is NOTHING like ‘Star Trek’
- People are weird about face masks 🤷
- Systemic racism is pretty much everywhere
- I need to talk to my kids about racism more. A whole lot more.
I’m white and to be 100% truthful I haven’t ever given my color a lot of thought. (I mean beyond describing myself as see-through)
Until George Floyd’s death and the ensuing explosion of protests, outrage, and activism, I didn’t understand the extent of my privilege.
I won’t say I ‘get it’ now, I likely won’t ever, but I am learning, growing and trying to do better in the world and with my kids.
I know I have to teach them about racism, but I’ve been stuck on how to put that into practice.
My friend Camryn Wells (author of The Color, Feel, Play book series) was kind enough to chat with me (on the podcast I host for children’s authors) and her suggestions for how to talk to kids about racism are worth sharing.
3 Ways to Talk To Your Kids About Racism, At Any Age
- Teach them to see people’s color. Really see them. If we try to teach our kids to think everyone is the same, we are teaching them to ignore the black life experience. Everyone is not the same. Everyone is not treated equally. But the first step towards equality is to acknowledge the differences, past & present, and work for a better future. (to hear Camryn’s moving words on this, watch this short clip on Youtube)
- There are many lanes of activism. You don’t have to be a protester to make a difference. An easy first step is to diversify your child’s reading material. (author Julia Inserro compiled an excellent list) Try to have at least half of your home’s library filled with a range of diverse characters. (And while you’re at it, do the work to find a black-owned bookstore and get your books from there!)
- If your child stares at a black person in a store, don’t hush them and move on. Use the moment to teach about different skin colors and the why behind it (melanin!). Don’t let their questions and curiosities be answered by someone else because it makes you feel uncomfortable (the media, society? ::shudder::).
You might feel uncomfortable talking to your kids about race and the existence of racism at first. I know I sure did.
But I will sit with the yucky feeling.
I will talk to my kids, and do research if I don’t have the answers.
I will diversify our library and toys.
I will do better, because now I know.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”