How To Talk To Your Children About Race
Raising Anti-Racist Children
Parents often avoid talking about race or racism to their children because they do not know what to say, or they believe it would be too painful or complicated for them. For many Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) talking about race is not an option, its essential in helping our children move through the world. There is a necessary and important conversation that parents of black children must have with their children about how to talk, dress, and act in the world, such a conversation may be a matter of life and death. ”…as a black person you can be killed for simply being black: no hands in your pockets, no playing music, no sudden movements, no driving your car, no walking at night, no walking in the day, no turning onto this street, no entering this building, no standing your ground, no standing here, no standing there, no talking back, no playing with toy guns, no living while black.” -Claudia Rankine
Racial bias is not learned by talking about race or racism. In fact, conversations about racism will help your child to unlearn racial bias that is systemic in our society. Similarly, talking about the LGBTQ community will not make your child gay. It will teach them love and acceptance.
Help your children develop respect, acceptance and appreciation for others from different backgrounds. Guide them in cultivating pride in their own identity and teach them how to combat injustices when they witness it. Expand the conversation beyond their own identity, so the conversation becomes about compassion and mutual respect for others. Teach them how to become a “we” community and not an “I” community.
If you wait too long to talk to your children, it just might be too late. The conversations are already happening. My 6 year old daughter has already experienced one of her peers at school telling her that she is ugly, her hair looks weird and her locs look like black cheetos. My 9 year old son was disappointed and hurt when one of his friends at school told him that his Golden State Warriors NBA basketball jersey that said, “The Town” on it, should say, “The Hood” because he is black.
We don’t want our children to internalize the messages that some people are more valuable than others.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
“Blossom Your Buttocks”
Listen, Reflect and Transform From the Inside Out
“Blossom your buttocks, like an African dancer,” instructed the white yoga teacher trainer, as I stood in one of my first yoga teacher trainings. The yoga room full of mostly white students, rotated their inner thighs back, and stuck out their butts. I was in a classroom of 30 students, mostly white women and no other Black students. When I heard this instruction, I froze and stopped breathing. I was in shock. I could not speak.
Love In Action“Love is an action.” bell hooks
Love in action begins with how you treat yourself. The ability to see all of yourself, both the divinity and the imperfections with complete acceptance leads to a loving, forgiving, open heart and mind. There is often so much focus on changing, judging or fixing yourself, rather than loving yourself. When you find the courage to face your fears and love yourself fully and completely, you learn compassion and gain the ability to see clearly, real love, just as it is. Real love is unconditional love without expectations or limitations, allowing yourself and others to be open, honest and free.