One of the most poignant messages that we’ve seen on social media over the last week is the idea of shifting perspective from “inclusive” parenting to “anti-racist” parenting. What’s the difference? Helping your child understand that people are more important than the color of their skin stops short of helping them understand how skin color affects how people are treated.
It’s simply not enough to teach kids to be inclusive and kind.
“The problem with strategies based solely on inclusivity and diversity is that they assume a level playing field for all,” writes Curious Parenting on their Instagram feed. “Anti-racism recognizes that racist beliefs have permeated our culture and created systemic problems. Rather than just talking about it, anti-racism asks that we actively work against it.”
Like many parents, you’re probably finding yourself in uncharted territory with a desire to do better — and no compass. We’re going to be honest; we don’t have the map. But we do have a few resources to help you navigate.
Start With Yourself
Chances are if you’re currently parenting yourself, you were raised in the “we don’t see color” era. Color-blindness isn’t the answer to fixing our current reality. So, it’s time to learn. The Conscious Kid is a non-profit organization that equips parents and educators with tools they can use to support racial identity development, critical literacy, and equitable practices in their homes and classrooms. Join their Patreon Community for as little as $5/month to have access to their resources.
Talking about race starts with personal reflection. The National Museum of African American History and Culture has compiled a toolkit to help guide you and inspire conversation.
Diversify Your Bookshelf
Local independent bookstores are offering suggestions for how to diversify your bookshelf. We’re not just talking about looking for answers in the social justice section; but as Greedy Reads (Fells Point) wrote on their Instagram “If you’re only looking for Black authors in the social justice section, you’re missing out on a world of books!” Greedy Reads donated 15% of sales last week to Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center and Baltimore Brew; so remember when you shop at your local bookstore, you’re also helping to invest if your local community. Caprichos Books in Bel Air is offering book suggestions on their social media and recently co-hosted an Instagram Live conversation with author/activist Tiffany Jewell, author of This Book is AntiRacist, to help local parents understand how to tackle the topic of race with their children.
Speaking of kids, don’t forget their bookshelf! Books are a great way to start conversations, even with young children. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum is hosting weekly virtual storytimes featuring black authors (your children can watch live or you can watch the archived videos) and are hosting the 8th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair on Saturday, June 27th. This year’s event is virtual and is a family affair featuring storytelling, workshops, author talks, and art-making activities. While you’re checking out their resources, why not become a member? Museum Hack is donating 125% of the cost of a Lewis Museum membership for memberships purchased now through the end of the year. Be sure to send your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org so that the Museum receives the matching donation.
Looking for book ideas for kids? The New York Times published a list of books to help your talk to your kids about racism and protest (it’s broken down by age). Port Discovery Children’s Museum suggests following these Instagram accounts for book ideas that will help you address race with children: @hereweeread, @diversereads, @joannahowrites, @mattersofrepresentation, and @inclusivestorytime. We’ve added all of them to our follow list and encourage you to do the same.
Have the Race Conversation… Even With Young Kids
The best thing to do? Have a conversation. Just start.
Curious Parenting offers excellent advice for talking to little kids about race. It starts by calling attention to race in every day activities: “I noticed all of the characters in this show are white. Did you notice that, too?” or “On this page, I see someone with lighter skin and someone with darker sin. I see someone wearing glasses and someone with curly hair. Do you see them too?”
The Center for Racial Justice in Education has compiled a list resources and advice from the experts on how to talk to kids about racism and protests, including this interview from Howard Stevenson, a clinical psychologist at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduation School of Education and Executive Director of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative.
As Stevenson says in the 2016 interview (which echoes loudly still in 2020): “We can’t hide our children from the world. Your child is probably already more aware of race, class, and gender differences than you realize. This can be a time to teach your child about social justice, while also helping process how painful these events can be for them, and for you.”
Everyone speaks up in their own way. Some on social media. Some in conversations with family. Some through community protests. Some through making donations. However you choose speak up, make sure your kids hear you and see you. Speak up loudly.
Editor’s Note: We realize that this is not an exhaustive list of anti-racism resources or actions, nor is this the last you’ll hear from us about it. It’s a start. We’re committed to resource sharing and growing, and in the coming weeks and months you’ll see more content from us toward this effort. If you have ideas or resources to share, please email us at email@example.com.