Talking about race with children may make you feel anxious but here’s how we can start…
👶 Start early; by 6 months of age babies start to notice racial difference & by age 3-4 children have already begun to show signs of racial bias. Even before babies & children can talk they learn through behaviours & actions.
🗣 When children grow older they become more vocal & it’s normal for them to start talking about skin colour. Don’t claim not to see colour, allow them to express their views, concerns & thoughts when it comes to their friends from different backgrounds & different cultures. Encourage open conversation; encourage children to ask questions, share observations & expose them to different cultural opportunities such as books, toys, films & cultural events. Try to choose books & toys that include people of different races & cultures & try to have a diverse friendship circle so they learn from their peers.
📖 Educate Yourself; if you, yourself are not entirely sure about how to address race or confused on how to be “racially appropriate”, EDUCATE yourself before educating your children. This might be uncomfortable for many because you’ll have to acknowledge & face your own bias. This is really important because we’re more likely to pass on racial biases if we don’t identify & work to overcome them. Be open & honest, it’s okay to say “I’m not sure” or “Let’s learn about this together.” You’re not expected to know it all & race is a topic you should plan to revisit again & again in different ways over time.
✊ EMPOWER them to make CHANGE! Be active—don’t be a “bystander” on race. Help your child understand what it means to be a “change agent”. It’s not always enough to speak up about racial inequalities, whenever possible, connect the conversations you have at home to the change you want you & your child to see & think together about how you can bring change into society!
These are just a few simple ways we can teach our children about race & by doing so bring a generational change.