Following recent events in the USA and protests across the globe, it is more essential than ever for parents to proactively raise their children to be anti-racist.
When parents avoid discussing issues around race and discrimination, children learn that such topics are taboo. As they grow up, these children will be hesitant to ask questions and will miss out on opportunities to discuss and correct any stereotypes or biases that develop. Watch this video to understand how quickly children internalise prejudice and discrimination against other races, as well as their own.
By taking the time to discuss our differences and immersing children in the realities of a diverse world, they become empowered to recognise, challenge and correct discrimination when they see it. These children are equipped from an early age to be life-long anti-racist allies who not only see colour, but appreciate the value of this diversity. You are your children’s first teachers and we are here to support you with this list of resources that will help you to raise respectful, kind and committed anti-racist children.
Please note: these resources are by no means definitive or exhaustive, but provide a good foundation to help you to educate and guide your children with confidence.
How to start the conversation
- Make space for conversation. If your child is old enough to have some awareness of what’s going on in the world right now, take some time to ask them what they know and how they feel about it. Remember that children notice more than we realise and absorb a lot of information around them.
- Meet your children at their level. Centre the conversation around the concept of fairness, which is easy for children to understand. Explain that things are currently happening in the news that are very unfair and upsetting. Use terms and language that your little one will readily process and absorb.
- Normalise racial diversity. Ensure that your child is exposed to diverse races, religions and identities in your everyday life and point out situations where there isn’t enough. Celebrate differences and highlight our commonalities as human beings. Send them to schools with diverse student bodies, to clubs with diverse participants, take them to different places. Show your kids media that presents diversity as standard, point out when it’s not there and remind them why it’s important.
- Be a role-model. Children naturally reflect and mimic their parents’ behaviour. Point out examples of inequality in society around you, read books and watch programmes with your little ones that demonstrate your ongoing commitment to educate yourself and them on these issues and make sure your own network of friends and co-workers reflects the racial reality of the society in which you live.
How to react to uncomfortable situations
- If a child asks why another child looks different to them, take the time to explain that humans are diverse and we are different and alike at the same time. Explain to them that differences in skin colour are caused by melanin, which human beings produce in their skin to protect against the sun’s harmful rays and bear no reflection on who we are as people. Watch this video for a fun and straightforward explanation of why people have different skin colours.
- If a friend or family member makes a racist ‘joke’ or comment around your child. React immediately, tell them that is not funny, that it is racist and that you will not tolerate such behaviour. Speak to your child to make sure that they understand that what was said is unacceptable and untrue.
- If you witness racism around you, call it out and discuss this with your child. Invite them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, for example ‘How would it make you feel if you were called names at school just because the other kids didn’t like the colour of your skin?’. This will help your child to develop empathy and understand racism in terms that relate to their own lived experiences.
- If racist issues are raised in the news, invite your child to engage in them with you. If they are old enough, ask them to read an article for you or sit down to watch a video on the subject together. Make sure that you critically check any media before sharing to ensure that it is accurate and appropriate for your child.
Non-fiction parents should read
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Renni Eddo Lodge. An extension of Lodge’s article of the same name, this book will open your eyes to the reality of racism in the UK.
- How to be an Antiracist – Dr Ibram X. Kendi. Essential reading for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to contribute to the foundation of a fair and equal society.
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo, PhD Unpacks white fragility to examine what it is, where it comes from and how white people can engage constructively in racial issues.
- Raising White Kids – Jennifer Harvey. Examines the impact of race on white children and equips parents to talk honestly about race and privilege and to raise their children to be active and committed to achieving equity and justice for all.
- Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging – Afua Hirsh. Examination of a divided Britain that challenges traditionally white-washed ideas of British identity, the everyday racism that plagues modern British society and why it’s so important to talk about race.
- Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World – Layla F. Saad. Featuring practical exercises and sociohistorical context that equip readers to recognise and dismantle their own privileges and (often subconscious) bias-driven behaviour.
- I Am Not Your Baby Mother – Candice Brathwaite, Founder of the Make Motherhood Diverse movement. A thought-provoking guide to life as a black mother in Britain and issues of white privilege, racial microaggressions and unconscious bias.
- So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo .A contemporary & accessible examination of the racial landscape in America, addressing key issues at the heart of the BLM protests (privilege, police brutality, microaggressions etc).
- How to Argue with a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality – Adam Rutherford. A straightforward armoury of tools that will equip you to deal confidently with any friends or family members who demonstrate bigotry and racism, especially in front of your children.
- Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala. Confronting British discomfort around discussion of raise, this book is a powerful examination of the legacy of the highly racialised British Empire.
- “I will not be erased” – Gal-Dem. A collection of stories from women and non-binary people of colour.
Fiction parents should read
- White Teeth – Zadie Smith
- Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid.
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
- Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
- Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
- Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
- An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
Books for kids that are great for anyone
- This Books is Anti-Racist – Tiffany Jewell. A positive resource with lessons on the origins of racism, how these perpetuate today and guidance for everyone to feel empowered to recognise and actively defy racism and xenophobia. The Quarto Group will be donating 100% of their profits from the This Book Is Anti-Racist eBook to Black Lives Matter and Color of Change throughout the month of June.
- What is Race? Who are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions – Nikesh Shukla & Claire Heuchan (Published 13th Aug). This book encourages readers to engage in conversation about racism and offers sensitive discussion of how to identify & challenge racism and to protect against and stop racist behaviour.
Good things for parents to watch
- Now They See Us (TV) based on the wrongful conviction of the Central Park Five, a group of innocent black boys accused of raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989. Available on Netflix.
- 13th (Documentary): Named after the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery thoughout the USA, this documentary explores the “intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States. Available on Netflix.
- Selma (Film), dramatisation of the Civil Rights marches which, under the leadership of Martin Luther King jr. in 1965, campaigned successfully for the protection of African Americans’ right to vote. Available on Amazon Prime.
- Dear White People (TV) Comedy-satire that follows several black college students at an Ivy League institution, touching on issues surrounding modern American race relations. Available on Netflix.
- Insecure (TV) A warm and relatable series that explores social and racial issues that relate to the contemporary black experience. Available on Now TV.
Podcasts for parents to listen to
- Dear Dope White Mum – Dope Black Mums [02.06.20]
- How To Raise Anti-Racist Kids (with Dr. Nzinga Harrison) – Good Kids: Stay At Home Edition [02.06.20]
- The Anti-Racist Renaissance – About Race with Renni Eddo Lodge. [10.04.18]
- BLACK LIVES MATTER – Pillow Talk with Papa B and Candice Brathwaite [08.06.20]
- Layla F. Saad: Doing the Anti-Racism Work – Ctrl Alt Delete [04.06.20]
- ‘Let’s Talk About Something Uncomfortable… Race’ – After Work Drinks [19.05.20]
- An Author Special with Renni Eddo Lodge – The High Low [14.06.17]
- Anti-Racism Resources & An Author Special with Candice Brathwaite – The High Low [02.06.20]
More useful online media
- Galdem: an online and print publication committed to sharing perspectives from women and non-binary people of colour.
- Make Motherhood Diverse: A movement that aims to represent every experience of Motherhood equally, democratically and inclusively – using pictures chosen by these mothers and in their own words.
- Raise Good Kids: An Instagram account that features daily tips & resources for mindful parenting.
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