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Talking to Your Kids About Racism

Categories: Blog

This summer has challenged us when it comes to how we approach conversations about racism and the systemic racial injustices that permeate our society. From social media slide-show style infographics to restructuring diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives throughout corporate America, there has been a national “call-in” for discussions on race relations. It’s on the news, and it’s even been on Nickelodeon. At YWCA, we’ve been sounding the alarm all summer about the injustices facing Black and brown communities in America, but this issue is far from new to us. It’s true to us. And after a summer of laying the groundwork of informing communities about the pervasiveness of systemic racism in our structures and systems, we are unveiling a campaign as a call to action to us all to rethink the America we could have if we worked together for equity: Until Justice… Just Is.

Here at YWCA, we believe that it’s never too early to begin having conversations with your children on race, identity, un-conscious bias, and racism.

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to discussing race with your kids, here are a few tips and tricks for introducing the topic:

  1. Age – it’s never too young to have these critical conversations. Studies have shown that children as young as 3 months old can differentiate between those that look like their primary caregivers and those that do not.
  2. Talk it over beforehand with your partner, friends, or family for guidance. You’re definitely not the only one having these conversations and now more than ever, it’s time to build community and solidarity around racial justice conversations. Find your people and solicit their advice: they know you better than anyone.
  3. Be self–aware and embrace silence as an opportunity for growth. Everyone has unconscious biases – check yourself before initiating the conversation with your kids. Establish safety in the conversation: it’s okay to mess up when facilitating difficult conversations, communicate that this is a trusting, safe opportunity to grow together around a challenging topic.
  4. Introduce some helpful learning/unlearning tools like books or other visual cues to help with the conversation.
  5. Depending on the age of your child, it may be helpful to pull real world examples to support the conversation. For middle schoolers and teenagers, this can include discussing current events and the news to provide context.
  6. Model the way: practice allyship in your life and invite your child to learn about other cultures and differences with you! Speak up if you see something that’s wrong – commit to being an active bystander so that your kids can see what it looks like in practice.
  7. Keep the door open for future conversations. If anything, learning and unlearning about racism is a practice. And, diversity is something to be celebrated, not overlooked – be intentional and understand that these conversations are always evolving and will change as your child grows and becomes more aware of the world around them.

At YWCA, we are intentional in how we address systemic racism – and this is evident through our child care programs. From YWCA Tri-County Area’s conscious discipline practices to YWCA San Antonio’s upcoming conversation on Parenting & Racial Justice, we provide services and structures for these conversations in the communities we serve. YWCA also offers safe, affordable, and reliable child care and early childhood education programs to over 200,000 children each year. Through these programs, we empower the communities we serve and create equity by increasing access to quality care.

The only wrong answer to these difficult conversations is staying silent. Speak up and encourage curiosity about the world and differences – there has never been a better time to challenge conventions on what productive conversations can look like. We have a duty to educate our children, and help them build a better world, until justice…just is.