On Wednesday October 21st, Sachi Feris of the blog Raising Race Conscious Children will lead a workshop to help parents and caregivers learn how to talk about race with young children. Each week until the workshop, I’ll share an article or resource to help you begin thinking about some related topics.
Let’s begin with a look at some of the key concepts involved in talking to children about race. Our first article, “Talking to Children About Racial Bias,” is from HealthyChildren.org, a website run by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Doctors Ashaunta Anderson and Jacqueline Dougé begin with basic information about how children perceive and assign meaning to race at different stages of development. You’ll find some sample phrases to use when discussing racial bias with younger and older children, as well as some questions to ask that might help you figure out where your child’s comments or questions might be coming from. Understanding your child’s thought process can help you identify and address any misconceptions that might be developing. And most importantly, Anderson and Dougé offer suggestions for concrete actions that parents can take to address racial bias for themselves, in order to set a better example for their children.
Speaking of misconceptions that children can have about race, I’d also like to recommend this TED Talk by education researcher and author Beverly Daniel Tatum. In the video, she talks about how she addressed her young son’s question: “is my skin brown because I drank chocolate milk?” She gives insightful advice on handling these questions from our children, even when the questions are posed in the grocery store. Tatum’s book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (available as an OverDrive eBook and in our print collection) is an excellent source of more information about this topic.
After looking at these resources, have any particular interactions from your own life come to mind? What kind of misconceptions or implicit biases have you noticed, either for yourself or for the children in your life? Feel free to consider these questions on your own, or share in the comments section below.
The workshop is supported by the White Plains Library Foundation.