Addressing Racial Injustice With Kids
The Giving Square team has reviewed parent resources, educator guides, and expert advice on addressing racial injustice with kids. Here, we have gathered a few best practices, key insights, and great resources to begin addressing racial injustice with your kids.
Best Practice #1: Unlearn the Color Blind Mentality
Phrases such as “we are all the same” or “I don’t see color” might have the right intentions but have been disproven as appropriate ways to discuss race with children. If we take the colorblind approach, we are ignoring the struggles or advantages that people may experience because of their race. A more current, comprehensive approach is to talk openly and directly to children. Adults can explain that race should not affect how we treat people, but it does shape the experiences of all people. This awareness is important if kids are to be part of the solution.
Best Practice #2: Have Direct Conversations
We need to talk to kids about race - directly and frequently. Kids are hearing about current events through the news, social media, and conversations with others. If we don't talk about these issues then kids will fill in the gaps. We need to correct any misconceptions they may have and model the importance of direct conversations rather than avoidance.
Best Practice #3: Look at First-Person Perspectives
First-person perspectives are an important way to better understand the implications of systemic racism. First-person perspectives also provide an opportunity for others to perspective-take, see what it might be like in another person's shoes, and empathize with those who experience systemic racism. Here are a few related resources, mostly for older kids and adults, that could also be discussed with younger kids (with parental support).
Online talks from children and youth, such as this Ted talk: Why Black Lives Matter NOW.
"How much racism do you face every day?", a way to measure your level of daily discrimination against the experience of others.
Social media accounts, such as "Black at Whitman," collect individual experiences of students experiencing racism.
Best Practice #4: Learn About Black American History
On July 17, 2020, we lost Representative John Lewis. He was a civil rights activist and leader who famously talked about getting into "good trouble, necessary trouble" such as nonviolent protests and boycotts. Learning about the life and legacy of John Lewis is a great entry point for talking about race. Here are a few resources for parents, individuals, and schools who want to learn more about Representative John Lewis and his legacy.
This tribute from National Geographic for adults and teens.
Kid-oriented biographies such as this one from Kids Britannica.
NPR's tribute to John Lewis.
Best Practice #5: Consult with Resources by Experts
Here are some new resources for exploring and addressing systemic racism. Two come directly from board members of The Giving Square. These resources can help inform how educators can navigate conversations about race and social justice with kids. They also inform how both racism and Black empowerment and leadership appear in the world of philanthropy.
FirstBook has produced Empowering Educators: A Guidebook on Race and Racism, an exceptional resource for teachers (and parents!).
TGS Board Member Toya Randall, of Casey Family Programs, just launched Voice Vision Values Black Women Leading Philanthropy, filled with role models, personal narratives, and thought leadership for the philanthropic sector and beyond.
"Recruiting for Board Diversity — Without Disrespecting People of Color" is the most recent BoardSource blogpost from TGS Board Member Jim Taylor. This post is one in a series.