Are you Ready to Talk to Your Kids About Racism?
Talking to your kids about racism can be especially hard if your parents never talked to you about it. But we must raise our kids to hurt when others hurt, be socially aware, and make a difference. From one white mom’s perceptive, check out these resources and encouragement to teach your kids to be anti-racist.
When I told my kids we weren’t just going to spend the summer talking about the current race issues in America but also relearning American History, I was met with major eye-rolling and pushback.
It’s summer, they whined, we shouldn’t have to learn or read.
Too bad, there’s no way I’m letting this moment in history pass us by.
The last thing I want is for my kids to have to explain to their kids the meaning of white supremacy after the nation experiences more race brutality, protests, and riots.
At some point, we must say it stops here, and it ends with me.
The White World I Created
I began down this journey towards racial reconciliation about a year before the George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor news hit our nation.
Having grown up in a diverse neighborhood, over the years, I slowly and unconsciously found my world to be very, if not completely white.
After listening to an interview on a podcast with Latasha Morrison about her organization Be the Bridge, I began to notice how I would go days with no interaction with anyone of color. Even in my workplace of over 200 people, I only had three black colleagues.
After reading Latasha Morrison’s book Be the Bridge, I realized that just as there were ways that I created a white world for myself, there are ways I could create a diverse world for myself and my kids.
I began talking to my white friends that were open to these discussions at first. At church for an event one night, I struck up a conversation with someone I didn’t know about the topic of race and diversity. She invited me to her church in another city for the diversity alone after she remarked how “white” my church was. This conversation prompted me to change churches.
I also began reaching out to people of color when attending conferences, or finding a place to sit at a school assembly. I started making connections online and putting myself under the leadership of people of color.
I searched for other women of color to be collaborators for my blog and podcast. I’ve joined bible studies and shared my heart with women of color.
Honestly, it’s been awkward, and I make mistakes. But I’m learning it’s not always about me.
The biggest take-away I’ve found is that once you’ve formed relationships with others, it’s so much easier to let down your guard to hear, understand, and accept your part in slavery, supremacy, and white fragility.
You can hear the hearts of your brothers and sisters and Christ, and you understand no one is telling you that you’re a terrible person if you exhibit racist actions or thoughts.
For the White Moms Who Need to Make a Change
If you’re a white mama, and for purposes of this article, I’m going to assume you are, we have so much work to do relearning from our black brothers and sisters that there’s no way we can be our children’s only resource when talking to them about race.
You can’t do your homework first and then talk to your kids, which is how parents usually like to attack tough subjects.
The reality is that when it comes to racial issues, your child, depending on their age and life experiences, might be more “woke” than you. And it would be best if you lay your ego down.
You will have to do your own (lifelong) work alongside your child.
But is this any different than how we teach them about God?
Surely you don’t consider yourself an expert on all things God, yet you began talking to your child about God at an early age while you continued to learn about God yourself. You consider learning about God a life long journey.
Your child probably gives you new insight to God you’ve never considered.
Teaching Our Kids About Racism
When I was moving churches and opening my eyes to the racial divide I’d created for my family, I failed to bring up race with my kids.
Maybe if I’m honest with myself, I didn’t know how to bring up the topic or thought I just wanted to shield my kids.
One night my kids and I were watching This Is Us. One of the young black characters, Deja, was upset because she had to change schools. She didn’t want to move to a “whiter” school.
My son said something to effect of “It’s 2019; there’s no racism.”
I realized I’d failed. And how privileged I am, and my kids are. It’s been a choice for us not to discuss race.
We began that evening to discuss racism. When the Ahmaud Arbery murder came to light, I didn’t hesitate to discuss it with my kids.
But as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd followed, I quickly see we have so much more to learn.
Whether you’re just getting started or been talking to your kids about race for a while, here are some suggested resources I’ve gathered to help you discuss race with your kids.
Remember these key points:
- This is a journey, not a sprint
- We all have implicit bias
- Don’t put the burden on your black friends or the black influencers you’re following; there are so many resources available. Google, if you can’t find something or don’t understand something.
- Your Silence is loud. It’s awesome to learn, but we also need to act.
- Listen and respect our black brothers and sisters. They’ve been living this reality their whole lives. White people aren’t the experts on racism.
- At the same time, white people need to speak up. We’ve been silent way too long.
- As Maya Angelou said, “Once you know better, you do better.”
Resources to Help You Talk to Your Kids About Racism
This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list by any means. These are just a few ideas for the parent who isn’t sure where to start.
The best advice I heard, was to quit looking for more and more resources and books. There’s no end to the books and resources out there on anti-racism. You won’t find any answers by amassing a collection of books.
Pick one or two books or a couple podcasts and just dig in.
Books about RACISM for Kids
AntiRacist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi and Ashley Lukashevsky, Ages 0-3
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman, Ages 4-8
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and E. B. Lewis, Ages 5-8
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Young Readers’ Edition: Everything American History Textbooks Get Wrong by James W. Loewen, Ages 12-18
Toys for kids that inspire diversity
It’s not as hard as you might think to make your child’s world more diverse. Explore other parts of your city, go to a different park, eat at a different restaurant, buy toys and dolls that don’t look like your child.
- These and these handmade dolls are adorable! Make sure your child has a diverse collection of dolls and toys.
- Puzzles, like these from Puzzle Huddle, affirm and inspire diverse children.
- Multi-Cultural Crayons
Audio / Video Learning with Kids
- Why You Need to Talk About Race With Your Kids (Podcast)
- Understanding Racialized Trauma – free 5 day course. Good for Teens to take with Parents
Anti-Racism Education for Adults
Consider this a life long journey to becoming anti-racist. These are just a few resources to get you started. You’ll find once you get started and explore on, follow the creator on social media, you’ll find more and more on anti-racism.
- Join the Patreon “Mockingbird” and receive History Lessons for Adults. You can join for as little as $1 per month and receive 4 History Lessons a month. You will be amazed just how much history you need to relearn yourself.
- Self-guided education to becoming Anti-Racist
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Get started on being a Bridge Builder
- Listen to the 1619 Podcast Series by The New York Times
- Watch the Oprah special “Where Do We Go From Here”
- Watch 13th on Netflix
- Watch or read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- There’s so many great books, instead of listing them all, I’ll direct you here.
There are a lot of podcasts, but here are couple of my favorite that also speak from the Christian narrative.
- Why Tho
- Speaking of Racism
- Be the Bridge