The first half of 2020 has been absolutely wild. We are living through a global pandemic PLUS a revolution right now. Let that sink in. If your emotions are all over the place, that’s totally okay. There is so much going on around us, and I know that many people (I’ve been guilty of this at times too) are ready to completely write off 2020 and start fresh next year. BUT in fact, we can make this one of the most meaningful years of our life, and we can use it to make an impact in the lives of our kiddos as well. This is the year that we can listen, learn, and create change. We can take everything happening around us and we can speak up, we can give a voice to those who are silenced and we can start to make a difference right in our own homes. As parents we have such an incredible opportunity right now to teach our children about love, kindness, justice and equality. In this post I’ll be sharing a few different ways that you can teach your child about race and empower them to stand up against racism.
Read books about race and equality
This is one of the easiest ways to introduce the concept of race to children of ALL ages. We just bought a ton of books for Mia about race, kindness, and love, and she is only 7 months old. It’s NEVER too early. Depending on the age of your child, this is a great opportunity to read the book together and ask them questions to start a conversation about race. Our local bookstore Indigo actually has a tab on their home page for an Antiracist Reading List (linked here) which makes it so easy to pick out age-appropriate books for your child.
Watch movies/shows together
I think this is another great way to expose your child to different races. For younger kids, simply watching a variety of movies with different races as leading characters is a great way to get them to see that. I love that Disney has incorporated princesses and leading roles of different races in recent years. For older kids such as teenagers, you could try to watch documentaries or movies that expose some of the racism occurring in the world together and use that as the basis to start a conversation.
Introduce toys/dolls/activities that include different races
Another great way to start exposing especially younger children to the concept of race is by being intentional to include toys/dolls that are inclusive of all races. You can also do activities together that involve looking at people across the world and showcasing different races. You can also incorporate easy crafts that use different coloured construction paper or skin coloured crayons for making people. These are great and easy ways to make your child aware that there are people of different colours and that although we don’t all look the same, we are all human and make up the world together.
Talk about it (avoid “colourblindness”)
An influencer that I absolutely love, @alliemboss recently opened up about talking to her daughter about a black doll that she has. Her daughter said that she didn’t see any differences between herself and the doll. While Allie was so happy to know that her daughter didn’t see the colour of her dolls skin as a difference between them, she also realized that it is important to teach our kids that there IS a difference and that THAT difference makes us all special and unique.
My point? Different races exist. Racism exists. Talk to your kids about it, help them understand that while we are all of different races, we are all special and are alike in so many ways, but sometimes we are treated differently because of it. You can start having this conversation with kids at all stages, being sure to adjust yourself depending on their age to make it easy to understand.
Empower them to be anti-racist
Finally, empower your kiddos to be anti-racist. What does this look like? Take your conversations one step further – talk to them about how they can speak up for people who look different than they do. Use examples of people in your community who make a difference or make it super relatable for younger kids by talking about fairness and how to stand up to bullies.
Being a new mom and one of West Indian decent, the concept of raising anti-racist children has weighed heavily on my heart. It is so important to me to start NOW and to make sure that Mia understands that we are all different but we also share so much of the same. For now we are starting by reading books that showcase different races and we are being intentional to include toys that are inclusive as well. As she gets older we will start to watch movies together and being to have conversations with her about race. I encourage you all to use some of the ideas above to begin having these conversations with YOUR kiddos no matter what age, so that together we can raise the next generation to be empowered to speak up against racism.