(Beyond “We Are All The Same Inside”)
#BlackLivesMatter #PoliceBrutality #PhilandoCastile #AltonSterling
My children don’t know about hashtags. They are too young to read their own books. A newspaper is for making paper hats, and social media is not yet a concern in their world.
But I do know about hashtags. I open the paper each day with deep anxiety about what I will read and my social media is often a rolling marquee of despair.
This past week, with all its happiness and celebrations of Eid, has also been one of great sadness and anger as we once again are forced to remind the world that Black Lives Matter.
It would be easy for me to assume that my children are too young to understand issues of race. That they don’t “see colour” and are immune to racial bias. But when my daughter asks me for a “white doll” because it is “prettier” or questions the colour of her own skin as being dirty, I know that not talking about race is a mistake that will deeply harm her.
I still struggle with the best and most relevant way in which to explain race to my young children and I think this is likely the situation for a lot of parents. Luckily for us, there are many thoughtful and sensitive resources out there to help us get started and frame our own discussions. I am listing five particularly excellent ones here:
- Nurture Shock Excerpt
The first time I thought about how I would speak about race to my children was when I was pregnant with my first child. A friend recommended I read a book called Nurture Shock and in it is a chapter on how research shows that children absorb racial bias at an extremely young age. An excerpt of this chapter can be read online and is a good starting point for understanding how prejudice is learned and what you can do about it.
- Raising Race Conscious Children
This is an amazing, dynamic site and my first point of call when looking for guidance and shared experiences on how to broach current topics of race and racial injustice with my children. They have an excellent list of resources worth bookmarking. This incredibly helpful article was published a few days ago.
- Advice on Age Appropriate Conversations on Racism and Police Brutality
Invaluable thoughts on how to make sure you are having the most relevant conversation for your child, given their age and understanding.
- Practical Tips on How to Talk About Race with Your Children
This short article helpfully summarises the whys and hows of talking about race to children with lots of thoughtful tips and practical advice.
- Celebrating Bree Newsome
I love the way writer Aya De Leon says of her daughter: “I am trying to raise a leader. I don’t want her to be so terrified by information about racism in her early childhood that she develops the idea that she is powerless to change it. I am constructing a narrative of explanation that emphasizes people’s power to transform injustice.”
To this end she has written a simple and accessible story to explain the confederate flag and modern day hero Bree Newson. You can also use this post as inspiration to construct more stories of empowerment for your children, using other examples and other heroes.BONUS
- Don’t All Lives Matter?
This is more for us as adults, but whenever I write or talk about Black Lives Matter, someone always tries to tell me that All Lives Matter. Does this happen to you? Read this. Then explain it to others. Explain it to your children.
Have you come across any other articles or toolkits that may be helpful? There are so many excellent resources out there and we would love to know about more of them, so please do share your links and thoughts in the comments below. Thank you.