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Talking About Race: Part One

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Talking with kids about race-related issues can be very difficult. Today, it’s more important than ever to begin talking with them early on about race – but carefully, so as to not accidentally begin shaping old attitudes and assumptions in them. Here are just a few tips and suggestions for beginning such a conversation:

  1. Try asking your kids what they already know about figures like MLK or relevant news stories. Then let them lead the conversation. Don’t jump in early and don’t “correct” them unless their responses are blatantly hateful or prejudiced. It’s important that kids figure (some) things out for themselves and that you don’t make assumptions about what they know/don’t know or understand/don’t understand.
  2. Try watching an age-appropriate film with your kids that either touches on issues of race or that features leading actors who are racially different from them. (Examples: To Kill a Mockingbird or Remember the Titans, etc.)
  3. If you live in an area that’s not terribly diverse, make an effort to take your kids to events that are more diverse (though don’t comment on this motive to your kids). It’s only important that they experience the fullness of their country’s rich diversity as well as the diversity of their own local community firsthand. Again, don’t be the one to begin the conversation. If you think your kids might have questions, wait for them to ask.
  4. Take advantage of upcoming holidays like President’s Day (Feb. 16th) and Black History Month to learn with your kids about racial diversity and discuss how all people — no matter their race — are human and have the same human needs and desires—loves, hurts, cares, and dreams.
  5. Check out different relevant TED Talks like “Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

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