Turn on the news, and what you’ll see is a country that is bleeding from the consequences of racism, inequity, and injustice. As a black woman raising a black child, I feel it’s important to not only step up to end the current fight, but to raise a child that will continue this work for generations to come.
Everyone plays a crucial part in the mission to end systematic racism in America. As a mother, one of my roles in this fight is to raise a child who is globally minded, tolerant, and knowledgeable about race and equity. Here are 5 kid friendly ways that I’m helping learn how to play her part in creating a world that sees and acknowledges color, and uses that vision to uplift one another with appreciation, justice, and equal opportunities.
The first step to appreciating diversity is to be open and transparent about it. Asking questions, answering questions, and encouraging hard conversations bring trust and awareness to even the littlest of hearts. Children are naturally curious, and should have open space to discuss their wonderings with their parents. At 5, Kalyn often asks about why people look different than her and has even made statements about brown skin being the best. These teachable moments provide opportunities for me to discuss diversity, what makes others unique, and how to appreciate and admire your own race without tearing down another.
As a mother, it is essential to create opportunities for my daughter to interact and build relationships with people of other races and cultures. This is my way of exposing her to differences with the hope that she will develop an understanding of how amazing those differences can be. From attending a diverse school, play groups, sports or extracurricular activities, or even travel, I work to make sure that she is never surrounded by only people who look like her. It is my hope that as she grows older and built meaningful relationships, she will work to ensure equity for all people because she has an appreciation for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin.
Sometimes, we as parents don’t always have the words to explain what is happening in the world, or how racism directly impacts us. Thankfully, we have TONS of resources in literature that essentially do the job for us. Reading about race, diversity, and equity is a great way to begin conversation on a child’s level, as well as get them to think globally in their daily lives. One of my favorite lists of children’s books about race and diversity can be found here.
As a former teacher, I often began each school year with activities focused around tolerance, empathy, and respect for the physical, emotional, cultural, religious, and learning differences of each member in our classroom. I rely on some of these same activities with my own child to explore race, diversity, and equity in fun and relatable ways. For example, cracking a brown egg and a white egg is a great way to show that though outsides may look different, insides can truly be the same. Simple activities lead to very meaningful discussions and help children truly understand that many of our differences are only surface level. Here’s a list of some activities that you can try at home!
Lead By Example:
The best way to teach your children is to lead them. Look at your actions and ask if they model empathy, respect, and equity. How often do you show up to vote for leaders that support equity and the end to systematic racism? When can you be seen helping people who don’t look like you? What do your own interactions, whisperings, and opinions of others truly look like? As we seek to develop children who are globally-minded, progressive, and loving, it is important that we display these characteristics in our own adult lives. Children are always watching, let’s work to be proud of what they see.
How are you teaching your children about race and equity? Share some tips with me below!