BLOG: Should I talk about race and racism with my children?
Please keep in mind that while the following blogs outline a few places to start when discussing race and racism with children, the journey to becoming anti-racist and raising anti-racist children is one that requires continuous and active self-reflection, education, vulnerability, and determination.
Answer: One of the BIGGEST misconceptions that parents have is that by mentioning race or racism to their child(ren) they will somehow plant a seed of prejudice in their developing minds. This could not be further from the truth. Sometimes we communicate as much in our SILENCE as when we actually speak.
By taking a “colorblind” approach to parenting, you are teaching your child(ren) that race and racism are not important things to discuss or understand. Please know that talking about race and racism is not racist. Research has shown that babies recognize differences in skin color as early as 6 months and begin to ask questions about physical differences in others by the age of 2. Children are SOOOO smart! Regardless of whether you talk to them about racism or not, children “see” color and, just like little sponges, they are absorbing all of the messages they see, hear, and DON’T hear about the way People of Color are viewed and treated compared to white individuals.
If your goal is to engage in anti-racism (to make an active and purposeful effort to work against systems of racism), it is important to initiate and promote open and honest discussions around race and racism with your child(ren).
More Answers from Dr. Jones
BLOG: Some helpful definitions in understanding race and racism
BLOG: What is implicit bias
BLOG: Why can't I say, 'I don't see color?
BLOG: How do I start talking to my young child about race and racism?
BLOG: How can I expand my child's worldview?
BLOG: Expert tips for talking with children about race and racism
Dr. Danniella Jones is a psychologist with the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department.