Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

If the children are our future, why do we subject them to things that hurt; despite our claim of protecting them from it? How do we plant the seeds of racial awareness in our black children?

Divulging conversations about racism with our children as black parent is not easy. Throughout history, not only were the adults subjected to the harmful effects of segregation and racism, those dark times did not spare the children from the pain. While it is a controversial topic to discuss, it is necessary, especially when it’s black parents who are constantly subjected to it, even to this day.

Racial awareness begins at an early age. Children are already starting to observe the world around them. They can already tell racism from a distance, even though they wouldn’t know what it’s called. Now here is the problem: the moment parents stay silent in discussing racism with their kids, they become complicit in their ignorance as they encounter it when they get older.

So it is part of your duty as your children’s guide to bringing racial awareness to them, even when it’s the most challenging thing. Everyone has to play an active role in being the change America needs to be, and it’s not up to the people of color to make that happen.

The best ways to talk to kids about racism

For starters, the Corporate Plantation in Bell’s book is an excellent place to learn more about racism in America. We need to sow seeds of racial awareness in a land with a deeply rooted race problem. Even in our year, it hasn’t gone away – more people have become aware of what it is.

So why is it vital for us to talk about it with them?

You might be worried since they shouldn’t have racial awareness that young. But more than that, the pressing concerns regarding racial violence and discrimination will eventually get to them before they even realize what it is. So if you’re a parent to a black child, do not wait for them to experience racism firsthand. You need to talk about it now.

Getting the facts straight

There is no right way to talk to your kids about something so complicated and sensitive as racism. Factors like family dynamics, ethnicity, and personal experience are heavily considered. Before having a sit-down talk with your child, they must understand basic human decency, respect, and appreciation for people’s differences.

However, everyone should have zero excuses not to educate themselves on racism, especially when it has become rampant worldwide in recent years. Countless resources are available now for you to access for free. Listening to podcasts, watching shows/movies that accurately depict racial injustice, or reading articles on racism, cultural appropriation, and civil right. History books and other informative literature, like the book American’t by King Bell, are good sources of information regarding racial issues that have plagued America.

Establishing the correct family values

Children see children do. Parents need to teach their children through word of mouth. You must be a direct positive example of the values that you want them to have. Show your children what you believe in by practicing kindness and sensitivity, regardless of another person’s ethnicity and skin color. You must show your kids that the language other people speak that’s unfamiliar to you should not be shunned just because they are in America.

Another way they will learn to be racial justice advocates is for them to see you stand up for yourself or others when they are being attacked over race. By demonstrating respect for other people of color, they begin to have racial awareness, which will be their guiding principle.

Creating safe spaces for the children

The last thing a child should feel is fear for their safety, especially with you as their parents. Whether you’re a black parent or not, you must assure them that you are their place of comfort. Tough conversations in any form inevitably come with heightened emotions, vulnerability, confusion, anxiety, etc.

This is especially true with children who were given the slap of racist reality too early. It becomes something they actively avoid, making them build walls to protect themselves from getting hit with more trauma. As parents, you need to validate their feelings, telling them that their fear and sadness are real. Creating safe spaces for your children to talk about racism shouldn’t also be a one-time conversation. You have to continually educate them on racism’s repercussions. Do everything in your power to grow and speak up against racial injustice.