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Speaking with youth about race and racism

Conversations about race and racism may be uncomfortable, but it can be a simple way of educating youth and helping them to understand what’s happening in our nation. Having honest and open discussions about this topic can help to ease some of the concerns your little ones may be feeling, trust them, and be open with them. Teaching your children about race and racism can help them to not only understand but also be anti-racist and inclusive later in life. To help, here are some tips for speaking with youth about race and racism:

  • There’s no time like the present! Don’t put off speaking to your children about race and racism. Children’s brains are sponges, use this to your advantage!
  • Be straightforward & honest! Explain to your children what’s happening around the world, what protests are, and how to make a difference. If you aren’t sure about something, be honest! Use this opportunity to learn together.
  • Listen to them! Children tend to be incredibly honest and will tell you exactly how they feel. This is a perfect time to listen to their thoughts and concerns. 
  • Keep your emotions in check! It’s easy to get worked up about issues with racism, use these feelings to explain that it’s okay to be angry, sad, confused, or frustrated. Try to remain calm when talking to them so they understand that this topic is serious. 
  • Teachable moments! Children are the future, use this opportunity to teach them about different races, inclusion, racism, and civil rights figures and events. Help them to grow, and maybe even change the world! 
  • Empower! Educate your little one on how to be inclusive, how to handle racism they may encounter, and how to love who they are! 

Find resources: Don’t be afraid to read and educate yourself and your children! Read and read some more! You can start by looking through our book list found HERE. Still not ready to take on this discussion? Check out some other tips from Girl Scouts, the Smithsonian, and Healthy Children.

Find our list of books on race and racism HERE or check out our lists Black Joy: Black Protagonists in Youth Literature and LGBTQ+ books featuring Black Protagonists.

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