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Our children receive messages about race all the time - from books, games, movies, television, teachers, family friends and family members, neighbors and neighborhoods, their peers, and from you. They learn from what you say and do, from what you don't say and don't do. Adults play a crucial role in shaping how and what they learn about race. Here are some starting points for raising children who can be the thoughtful, informed, and race-brave community members our multiracial democracy needs to thrive.
Many children and youth see injustices in the world around them and want to address those injustices to create a better world. And they are doing so in a whole variety of ways, from protest to policy advocacy to educating themselves and their peers on social media. As parents, teachers, and other adults with relationships to young activists, we can help or hinder their efforts. Here are some tips about how to support their leadership and work.
The most common advice is to avoid books with stereotypical or negative portrayals, and to seek out books by authors/illustrators who share an identity with the characters in the book. There’s not a whole lot more guidance out there. The folks at Diverse BookFinder some additional advice for how you can evaluate the quality of picture books featuring BIPOC.
Child psychologist Allison Briscoe-Smith is a pro at having difficult conversations with children on topics that evoke "big feelings." She offers this advice for approaching COVID-19 with children.
As the worldwide pandemic caused by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to unfold, it is important that each of us find ways to calm ourselves and manage the associated stress. Behavioral pediatrician Adiaha Spinks-Franklin offers these suggestions for kids and families.
The two friends and moms behind the podcast Mommying While Muslim share their favorite resources for supporting healthy, resilient Muslim children in an age marked by anti-Muslim hate crimes, school bullying, and travel bans. They are tips both non Muslims and Muslims can use.
Education researcher and organizer Ann Ishimaru offers guidance for families working to foster racial and educational justice by leading change in schools. Collaborating across lines of race, class, language, and other identities is challenging, but she says that in her experience collective efforts to build solidarities and power can realize equity-focused change in schools.
Gina Samuels is a transracial adoptee who has spent my professional life working with and conducting research on the experiences of multiracial families and families created by transracial adoption. Transracial adoption is a unique context in which children learn about race, ethnicity and culture, and has important implications for how parents can support their children, within and beyond families, to develop healthy racial identities. Gina offers suggestions for adults raising children in multiracial families, with special considerations for families that include transracial adoptees.
Whether you're worried a child in your life might be a target for recruitment or you worry that they will encounter white nationalist sentiment at school or online, information and conversation are critical to breaking hate. Here’s how teacher Nora Flanagan and youth worker Christian Picciolini suggest you dig in.
Textbooks, films, television shows and popular children's books usually have stereotypical imagery of Native peoples that suggest they all wore feathered headdresses and fringed leather clothing, sat around fires and told legends, lived in tipis, hunted buffalo and spent time--for no reason--attacking pioneers. All of that makes it nearly impossible for caregivers and educators to choose children's books that can help their children learn something about Native peoples. Dr. Debbie Reese is tribally enrolled at Nambe Pueblo in northern New Mexico and is the co-founder of American Indians in Children's Literature. She offers the following points to help you become more adept at choosing children's books by and about American Indians.
The harms done by mass incarceration extend to every part of life, not least to the bonds between children and their parents. Most often, these parents and kids are people of color. The following steps are actions you can take to be part of making life better for kids and parents most directly affected by mass incarceration.
Misinformation about indigenous communities is everywhere. These hurtful narratives negatively impact indigenous youth and their sense of place and purpose. They also perpetuate environments that are hostile to Indigenous communities. Reclaiming our landscape narratives - the stories past and present told about the Land, People, and Cultures of our Indigenous communities - is critical to the well-being of Indigenous youth and communities.
Mentors can be relatives, teachers, neighbors, coaches, the bus driver or any other adult who believes in a young person and helps them be themselves, make choices and discover opportunities. Quality mentoring relationships have powerful, positive effects on young people, making them much more likely to graduate, go to college, volunteer, and less likely to be depressed, to name a few. Unfortunately, one in three young people say they don’t have that one adult they feel they can turn to in moments big and small. That’s 9 million young people.
Read-alouds serve many purposes: to engage with children, have fun, learn about something new, connect with a character, and/or as vehicles for conversations about race and other issues that require careful thought and consideration. Listed below are tips for caregivers and parents on how to read aloud to children at home when reading books that present possible tough topics.
Children as young as three years of age notice and comment on differences in skin color. Humans of all ages tend to ascribe positive qualities to the group that they belong to and negative qualities to other groups. Without guidance, children are likely to develop biased attitudes from exposure to negative racial stereotypes, racial disparities, and segregation.
What does it looks like to intentionally raise children with the knowledge and understanding of systemic inequities and the tools to create an equitable society rather than accept the status quo? There’s a growing body of research that can guide us along the way.
We Stories uses the power of children’s literature to create conversation, change and hope in St. Louis, and a stronger, more equitable and inclusive future for all. We serve parents, and their children from birth to age 7, who are not yet having robust conversations about racism but would like to. Here are our top 5 tips for building momentum around racial justice among parents who haven’t been having the conversation.
At Kindred, we have mobilized hundreds of parents in Washington, D.C. to engage each other across lines of race and class in the fight for racial equity in their children’s schools. Although every school is different, we’ve found the following guidelines for organizing parents effectively apply widely.
More than six decades after the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that separate schools are inherently unequal, segregation remains a huge challenge. The need to “fix policy” to create sustainable and meaningful integration is real. The research is clear that racially diverse classrooms benefit all kids. But even without policy change, there are things that we can do as parents to support a more just, humane, and better integrated educational system and society for all children and families.
All children need to learn about oppression so they can identify it and contextualize it. But racism and white supremacy (and sexism, homophobia, etc.) can be painful and scary concepts for kids—especially when they match up with their lived experiences. They have to know that there are people actively working to fight against these systems. Anytime we are sharing the realities of oppression, we must include the ways in which people experiencing oppression fight back.
Important lessons about race, diversity, and equity can and should be taught in early childhood and preschool settings. Drawing on their experience at the Child Care Center at Hort Woods, a preschool and early learning center at Pennsylvania State University, the authors offer suggestions about introducing anti-bias education to very young children.
How can caregivers and educators best guide children to and through picture books with positive racial representations? How can we also support kids in resisting or reading against racist content? These tips draw on the Whole Book Approach and other resources to highlight how picture books can provoke meaningful, transformative conversations between children and adults that “embrace race.”
Research shows that people who grow up in diverse neighborhoods and attend diverse schools express less racial prejudice and are more supportive of multiculturalism. What does that mean for kids growing up in segregated neighborhoods? We offer some ideas about how to foster inclusive attitudes in children - of all colors - who live and attend school in homogenous environments.
EmbraceRace is a multiracial community dedicated to sharing and developing best practices for raising and caring for kids, all kids, in the context of race. We partnered with MomsRising - a transformative multicultural organization of more than a million members working to increase family economic security and end discrimination against women and mothers - to create these tips for our communities.
While being a person of multiracial or “mixed” background can be highly idiosyncratic, there are some common themes across experiences. Knowing some of these commonalities can provide support to parents, family members, teachers and others who want to understand what mixed-kids in a racially obsessed society might go through. These examples are drawn from my life and from my conversations with other racially mixed people over the years.