While systematic segregation was deemed unethical and made illegal long ago, racism is still alive and well in America. Police brutality against black people, the questioning of “legal” status about anyone that has brown skin and speaks with an accent, and many other daily occurrences have recently brought racism to center stage. It is important to talk to your children about racism, no matter what race you or your children are, in order to break down the walls and work towards ending racism.
Look for “Ins”
Bringing up a talk about racism can be difficult and children may not understand or be receptive to it. It is easier to try to find a simple “in” that will help your child understand what you are talking about. Children are inquisitive, so it is natural that they may directly ask you why someone’s skin is a different color or why they dress differently. Use these as teachable moments in which you introduce your child to different cultures and talk about real scientific reasons for differences in skin color.
Expect Embarrassing Comments-and Use Them as Opportunities
It is common for children to make comments that may be received as racist or intolerant – if those statements were made by an adult. Your pint-sized person doesn’t yet understand enough to actually be racist. Instead of yelling at your child or thinking about punishment, use the opportunity to refute what they said and to make them see things a different way. Teach them about why they shouldn’t say those types of things and help them to understand that they could be hurtful.
Connect with People of Different Backgrounds
The best way for children to learn tolerance and to grow up with diversity is to connect with people of different backgrounds. Having conversations with people that are different races, practice different religions, and come from other countries will help to truly bring down the walls dividing people.