Talking to Kids About Race

A mother’s reflection: The importance of character over characteristics

A Discussion About Race

I made a conscious effort to avoid describing anyone based on race. In my mind, it was to avoid forcing biases on my children, to allow them to see who people are, by how they show up. 

At first, I thought it was a great idea, but with so much racial unrest across the country, where people clearly look at black and brown people oftentimes solely based on their skin color, I realized I was doing my children a disservice. 

The pivotal moment of reflection

How can I teach them to see people for how they behave, when the world still only sees color? 
While I was cautious about how race was discussed, no one else seemed to be. And before #blacktwitter and #blackinstagram come for my black card, let me clarify. (I teach my kids their history, African history and Black history. We celebrate Kwanzaa and read up on Black History greats.) I just avoided conversations that started with “that white lady over there” or “the black lady with the…” 

Why talking about race proved important

Not explicitly talking about race kept my kids in the dark. They were unequipped to handle kids telling them they don’t like black people or that my daughter’s hair was too poofy. Conversations that follow them to this day. Part of me believed people evolved. Honey, in some ways I was WRONG. 

Despite today’s racial unrest, I still need them to see people for their character, not their physical or cultural characteristics. Teaching good and bad people everywhere, of every color, is important and ongoing. Because of these convos, their friends range in race, culture, and ethnicity. They are exposed to experiences I never had as a child. More importantly, I am thankful for the parents who’ve raised children who also choose friendships based on character, not characteristics. (a great lesson in healthy parenting)

There is nothing wrong with teaching your kids to love who they are. The problem lies in teaching them that they are better because of their race. 

Erasing racism starts at home. 

Raising conscious kids is the new self-care. How will you help change the narrative? Tell me in the comments.