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A parent’s guide to talking to children about race, racism

For parents, now is a crucial time to talk about race, racism, and injustice. Denise C. Moore, MSW, LCSW, LCAC of Master’s Touch Counseling Services joined us again to continue our discussion on how to navigate this touchy conversation.

How do you speak on racism with black kids vs. non-black kids?

Black children come into the world with no choice but to learn about race and racism. Traditionally, all Black parents have had “The Talk”, with their children, starting as early as pre-school. This talk is about preparing African-American children to survive in our society. They are instructed on how to conduct themselves when in public and when in the presence of others.

White families often ignore the issue of racism because it is an uncomfortable topic, and because many assume that it doesn’t affect their children. But racism dehumanizes all of us.  We can only end racism by talking with our children about how it’s unfair it is, by admitting that all of us have a tendency to judge people based on appearance, by pointing out the terrible cost to people of color.

Road map for change: 

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Continue learning: Get comfortable about being uncomfortable. Continue talking and learning about race, racism and racial inequity.

Cultivate a diverse library. Be intentional and authentic. Create or add to your children’s literature, a variety of black and brown authors, who write about multidimensional characters. 

Take opportunities. When racism or intolerance comes up, keep the lines of communication open. Ask your children questions to find out why they’re thinking what they’re thinking, and how these ideas developed. 

Encourage Empathy: Create situations where your children can interact with people of diverse backgrounds, religions, and traditions. Meeting new people will lead to questions and “teachable moments” and help foster a better understanding of diversity, in turn, developing nurturing brave, inclusive, empathetic children.

Model behavior. Model open, thoughtful, and respectful conversations of difficult issues. Create an open dialogue of learning about racism with your extended family and friends. Speak up against racism or bigotry that you encounter.

Reading materials to help guide the process:

Stupid Black Girl by Aisha Redux

Stamped by Jason Reynolds

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise our Voices by Wade

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Find literature for children and adults by African-American authors here:

The Brown Bookshelf is a group of authors and illustrators who came together to push awareness of the myriad of African-American voices writing for young readers. Brain Lair Books is an independent, black-owned, female-owned bookseller in Indiana.

To learn more about Denise’s counseling services, visit her website.