EmbraceRace

4 Steps to Help Kids Push Back Against White Nationalism

By Nora Flanagan and Christian Picciolini 

Child wearing a superhero cape

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 we suggest you dig in. (Also check out the video of our related conversation with EmbraceRace.)

1. Understand the issue. 

Learn the terms, groups, and issues at the center of the recent surge of white nationalist activity.

2. Talk to your kids. 

You will not be the first parent startled by what your child has seen or heard already.

  • Ask them if they are seeing or hearing anything at school or online. Ask about online gaming platforms, too. Stay calm, so that they aren’t scared to tell you more. Ask follow-up questions. 
  • The Washington Post just ran a piece built around the recent viral Twitter thread encouraging parents of teenage sons to look and listen more. 
  • ColorLines published a guide for talking to kids of color about white nationalism after Charlottesville; it’s every bit as relevant now. 
  • Here’s a Scary Mommy blog post that calls out specific bloggers and YouTubers as the writer describes stumbling into the issue during a car ride conversation with her son.

3. Talk to your kids’ schools. 

Yes, it’s your business what they’re doing to confront racism.

  • Read up on what schools can do to prevent and respond to white nationalist activity in Confronting White Nationalism in Schools
  • Ask your local school administration or school board what measures they have taken to strengthen their school community against white nationalism. 
  • Find a way to gather other parents around this issue. Start small if you need to, but start a conversation. You are not the only one worried about this.

4. Read more. 

One of us (Nora) is an English teacher, so you’re going to get more book recommendations!

  • Christian’s book, White American Youth, explains how a kid from a good family can get sucked into racist hate, as well as how he got out. 
  • Here’s a New York Times piece that cites two additional books about the recent resurgence of white nationalism, how young people get recruited, and how they can get out. 
  • Deep dive: here’s an extensive reading list from Bustle about racism, white nationalism, and more. 

Nora Flanagan

Nora Flanagan is a veteran high school English teacher in Chicago and has researched and organized against racism for decades. She recently co-authored Confronting White Nationalism in Schools, a toolkit designed to help schools thoughtfully and effectively respond to incidents of racial hostility and proactively strengthen school communities.

Christian Picciolini

Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, peace advocate, and a former violent extremist. He now leads the Free Radicals Project, a global extremism prevention and disengagement network.
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