My reaction to the continued acts of racial violence in this country, to the nonstop acts of racism that do not get the attention of the media, to the peaceful protests, and to the violence and looting has been a combination of anger, frustration, great sadness, and fear. I just want it to all stop.
I know that the protests will become less frequent. I know that the rioting and looting have largely stopped. I know that the stores will take down the boards and reopen. I know that the media will soon turn its attention to the next big story. I also know that the racist acts whether or not they are recorded, whether or not they result in death, whether or not they are deemed newsworthy will continue.
We as parents are in a unique position to make things different. Babies are not born racists. What we do as parents will have an impact on our children’s actions and attitudes about race from the time they are young through adulthood. It’s never too early to teach our kids about race. Our kids are forming opinions and preferences about race soon after birth. According to healthychildren.org, as early as 6 months, “a baby's brain can notice race-based differences.” If your goal is for your child to have a healthy, informed view of race and to be actively anti-racist, there are steps you can take now.
- MODEL AN ANTI-RACIST ATTITUDE. We as parents are our children’s first and best teachers. What we say, the people with whom we socialize, and what we do all have an impact on our children’s perspectives on race. Take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and confront your own racial bias. The more you challenge racial bias and stereotypes the more your children will.
- TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. Initiate conversations with your child. Your child has already formed opinions on race. Those opinions have been informed by books, TV, movies, video games, social media, their friends, and school. By speaking to your children, you can learn what they already think or know, and you can correct them when necessary.
- HOLD YOUR CHILD'S SCHOOL ACCOUNTABLE. Recently a friend shared that her child’s teacher told the class that there is no longer racism in this country. Ask your child’s teacher, the school’s principal, and the school district how they are addressing the issue of race. Hint: It should involve more than a single assembly or classroom discussion during Black History Month. What books are being read or assigned? What books are in the library? Who is the school inviting in for assemblies and special programs?
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RESOURCES. There are many books, toys, movies, cartoons, and television shows with racially diverse characters. The more children see diversity in the world, the more they will embrace it. Go beyond providing resources. Use the books, movies, toys, and other resources as springboards for conversations about race.
I can't stress enough the importance of having an ongoing dialog with your children about race. As your children get older, they will continue to hear perspectives on race from the media, friends, school, books, etc. It is important for you to know what they are thinking, to learn from them, and to challenge them.
For more resources, join my Facebook group, My Super Powers! Community.
Stacey Montgomery, Founder
Stacey M Design and Stacey Montgomery Publishing
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