How to Talk to Your Children About Racism

 

Every family, no matter their background should be having conversations about race and racism. Our experts say, kids from all backgrounds are aware, paying attention, and thinking about the current civil rights events happening in our community. Although their family’s make up and neighborhood they live in may differ, these events are affecting their emotions in one way or another.

Video Transcription 

Hi everyone, welcome back to our On Our Sleeves YouTube channel.

Gina McDowell today with you with Doctor Ariana who is one of our pediatric psychologists here at the hospital.

I'm so thankful to have Ariana here today with us to cover an extremely important topic. Talking to our kids about racism.

The world has been experiencing so many different emotions around the topic lately and while parents are managing their own stress in regard to the subject, they are not sure if they should talk with their kids about it as well.

Even if they want to not really sure how to start that conversation.

So, Ariana thank you so much for joining us today to navigate this concern for parents. 

Yes, I am very happy to be here.

First let’s start off with who should talk to their kids about racism?

Yeah that's an excellent question.

I think it's important for every family should be having these conversations right now no matter their background.

I've been surprised through my clinical work that I've noticed kids from all backgrounds are aware they're paying attention and they're thinking about the current civil rights events that are happening in the community.

Maybe family’s makeup varies and the neighborhood they live in varies but I am noticing that emotions are impacted in one way or another for everyone.

One thing that's important to me, as a Latina immigrant, is I'm hearing a lot of for my family and from our community members, “oh this is a problem that's the US, we don't have racism in our country where we're from.”

I want to highlight that's just it's not the case racism and colorism it exists all over the world.

One way that I pointed out that’s superficial is you know, name a black actor from your favorite telenovela and usually they can't.

It highlights that inequity.

If we move more deeper than just this example, we know that data shows that black immigrant experience more discrimination, they have decreased mental health, more inequities in education or at work.

So, it shows it's not just an American problem, it’s not they’re fighting with us.

And you know that's why I like the name of the black lives matter, it shows and uses black on purpose is not African-American it is inclusive of, lack, from Latin America, black, from Africa, black, in the US, and it calls to all of us to join. 

So, it's such an important point to make this isn't everyone problem and everyone fight.

I love that too; I love that you pointed that out.

So what should parents say to their kids especially if they are just getting started with this conversation and they might be feeling like I know I want to talk about the subject and I know I want to cover it with my kids but where do I even begin?

It can feel overwhelming.

Definitely the first thing to think about is their developmental level, their age.

One way to quickly get out what they're ready for is asking questions.

Ask them what are you thinking, how are you feeling, where did you hear about that, or what do you want to know.

Then give them only small bits of information at a time, it's easy to over-explain ourselves as adult but try a sentence or two sentences and if they ask follow-up questions, they're showing you their ready to learn more.

So, you know kind of go along with what they're asking. In terms of content, younger kids, you can just start talking about race in itself.

Talk about, that we're all different, we all look different, and that different is good. Also take time to talk about the similarities too, between all the groups.

And then again if we're talking about immigrant families it's important to highlight to our kids the difference between ethnicity and race.

So, for example, people from the Caribbean or Central and South America were ethnically Latino, but our race can vary widely.

We can be white, we can be black, we can be indigenous, we can be mixed.

And so again going back to what I mentioned earlier we have black Latinos just like we have white Latinos just like here in the US.

Other things you can talk about is the concept of fairness.

Kids really get that.

You often hear your kids say that's not fair and so talk about how sometimes kids or people are treated unfairly because of the color of their skin.

And for older kids you can go deeper.

You can start talking about historical events like slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights, and understanding history for kids can really help explain why certain words or statement can be hurtful.

It can help them understand why the current events are happening so that we highlight that it isn't just the history, it's not just a thing of the past.

It’s happening for the Latino families talk to the kids that our countries also had European colonizers.

They also used slave labor, and this is why we're all mixed races just like in the US. 

These are all amazing talking points and amazing ideas for parents.

Beyond the conversation that parents can have with their children, what other actions would you suggest they take?

Yeah that's a good question.

It's something that we don't just want one conversation and then you're done. We want this to be the constant everyday thing.

So, first, set an example.

Go to community events that are diverse, have books in your home or watch TV shows and movies that show diversity and learn together.

Maybe you're watching something where you noticed that there's a stereotype of a certain group, highlight that to the kids.

Talk about how that's not normally you know one person doesn't represent everyone else.

You know you can do research together; you can look up different ways that people of color have created change and have been advocates and have been heroes and learn with your kids too.

Yeah, it’s Beautiful.

I love all of those ideas.

Thank you so much for joining to discuss this topic with us and all of your wonderful ideas and insight.

We absolutely appreciate it and I know our parents do too.

Thank you for having me. 

So that's all we have for you today.

If you have other ideas that you use at home that have been successful, please leave them in the comments section and as always don't forget to like us and subscribe.

See you next time.