So often, when we at EmbraceRace introduce our work to someone new, the response includes something along the lines of, "Wonderful! I'd love help knowing how to talk to my kids about race!" However, the truth is that what adult caregivers say explicitly to children about race, when we say anything at all, forms only a small part of what children learn about race.
In this Talking Race & Kids video, we take a close look at the childhood landscape of racial learning. Beyond what we say to them explicitly, what other factors shape what our children learn about race? How do differences in racial and class identities shape the ways children learn and are taught about race? Maggie and Erin share their research then Andrew and Melissa of EmbraceRace take questions and comments from the EmbraceRace community (you!). The transcript of this conversation follows. Further down you'll find the Community Q&A, then related resources and lastly guest bios.
“Ammi, How many suitcases will we need to pack our home?”
I looked quizzically at my son thinking this was another of his oddball questions or that he had inadvertently let slip his plan to run away from home. “Don’t we have to leave now that Trump is President?” His question seared right through the protective barrier that I thought I had encased around my innocent seven-year-old. I was stunned and it took me a while to formulate a response and reassure him that the U.S. is our home and we are not going anywhere. When I spoke about this incident with other parents, a hush fell on the group and then slowly their own stories tumbled out. Each of them recounted words thrown like barbs either at themselves or their children - terrorist, ISIS, "towel-head," do you have a bomb in your backpack?
‘It’s Not in Our Head’… and yet Pain is in Our Brain: Why Racialized Exclusion Hurts and How We Can Remain Resilient
Going into your home while Black, waiting in a coffee shop, playing with your child, styling your hair, swimming, cooking, flying as a doctor while Black…living while Black. And as such, being subjected to undo questioning, demeaning and sometimes life-threatening reactions - you name it, we have seen it. And we feel it…which means our children do as well. A starkly sobering example in recent weeks with the news of a 9 year old Black girl who committed suicide, no longer able to cope with the racist taunts she faced from peers at school.
Each of these widely known and growing incidences of exclusion, harassment and race-based violence impose criminalization of everyday behaviors onto people of color and others in marginalized groups. These attacks have and continue to have a cumulative impact that injures psychological and physiological well-being. Evidence regularly grows about the impact of racial trauma and race-related stress on our emotional and physical health. What may not be as widely known is how racialized exclusion and violence show up in the brain.