“Wait, your last name is White? But your skin is brown….that’s so funny,” said Sam, an adorable 3-year old neighbor. For kids, color is just a characteristic. When they're young we have the opportunity to continue to foster their openness talking about race by celebrating differences and underscoring similarities.
My name is Jaylon Rosenblum (maiden name White). I’m Head of Marketing at Manhattan Toy Company and a black mom to two boys. From the moment they were born I have thought about when and how I will talk to my guys about race, but it’s not something that’s top of mind for all parents.
As parents, we have an opportunity to seed change early by talking to our kids about race and building positive associations with races that are different from our own. The building blocks we use can be as straightforward as curating books with main characters of different races, exposing kids to different cultures, and providing dolls of different skin tones to nurture.
We can also approach conversations proactively and head-on. For some, conversations about race come naturally and for others, they’ll be difficult, but they’re imperative for all of us. Our friends over at Lovevery have shared a list of resources to help guide conversations about race with young kids. I’m resharing their list because I’ve found it to be a helpful resource in my own life.
This past week has brought a spotlight to a long-standing fracture in our society. This post does not address the complex issues that we face as a country, it simply provides a resource that we can employ so that we can all move forward together in building a better society for our children.
Here are some resources that might be helpful:
- Talking to Children about Racial Bias, from HealthyChildren.org, By: Ashaunta Anderson, MD, MPH, MSHS, FAAP & Jacqueline Dougé, MD, MPH, FAAP
- Talking to Children After Racial Incidents, featuring author Howard Stevenson, an expert on racial stress and trauma.
- Talking to kids about race, from National Geographic, includes advice for very young children.
- Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent's Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice, a toolkit from Teaching Tolerance that spans ages 2-17.
- Your Age-by-Age Guide to Talking About Race, from 6 months to age 8, from Parents Magazine.
- Race Talk: Engaging Young People in Conversations about Race and Racism, from the Anti-Defamation League.
- How to Talk About Kids and Race from Brightly, by author and mother Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, full of studies, citations, and resources.
- Even Babies Discriminate: A Nurture Shock Excerpt by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.
- Study about racial bias in babies from the University of Toronto.
- Why White Parents Need to Do More Than Talk to Kids About Racism, from Times, a study by Margaret A. Hagerman sociologist and author.
- Stages of Racial Identity Development by Louise Derman-Sparks, anti-bias educator.
- Racial Identity Development During Childhood, a study by the University of Pennsylvania.
- What White Children Need to Know About Race, by Ali Michael and Eleanora Bartoli of NAIS (The National Association of Independent Schools), is about the particular need for white parents to talk to their children about race.
- We Need More White Parents to Talk to Their Kids About Race. Especially Now by Chandra White-Cummings.
- Teaching Young Children About Race, by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards, is about creating a rich anti-bias environment for children.
- From NPR’s Life Kit podcast, Talking Race With Young Children also has a wealth of resources and advice on its episode page.
- A large list of other resources from the Center For Racial Justice In Education.