I had originally written this post about diversity in November 2017 but given all that has happened after the death of George Floyd, I thought it would be appropriate to update this post with additional links and resources for those of us who are working hard to raise white children who are actively anti-racist.
Are you ready to talk to your kids about diversity? I didn’t think it was going to happen at only 3 1/2 years old but it did. If you follow me on Instagram (please do! @nuggetlands), you probably saw my InstaStories about an unexpected talk I had with Big Nugget.
At lunch last week, we were eating our burgers at Habit and people watching. Out of nowhere, she tells me “Mom we have the right skin color. Ours is the normal one and the right one.”
? I nearly choked on my burger.
I asked her what made her think that? And she said it was something that she decided. I asked her then what about Ms Tika and Ms Missy (her school teachers who are African American and Latina) and she said their skin was ok and that she loved them.
We kept talking about it and I was trying to probe her more on where she heard something like this but she just kept saying “I decided that myself”.
Meanwhile, all that is going through my head is that racism is learned….who is teaching my child these things? FREAKING OUT. We chose her preschool because it was so diverse. We don’t talk that way and I’d like to think that our actions and words show her acceptance and empathy.
The Diversity Lesson
She now understands that no one has the right skin color and that everyone has different skin colors and hair colors and eye colors and each and everyone is perfect for that person. Just like the rainbow, the more colors that we have around us, the more beautiful it is. She loves rainbows so I think that really resonated with her. I said God made everyone perfect and different and that it’s ok. She asked about Jesus and what color he was and I said that he had dark skin like Ms. Tika.
She started to lose interest in our conversation at this point because, well, she’s 3 but I wanted to drive home the most important point to her, that saying something like that is not only untrue but hurtful.
I know this is just the beginning of educating her and making sure she is accepting and inclusive but HOLY HELL. I was blindsided.
Talking to teachers about diversity
That next day, I spoke with her preschool teacher about our conversation. At first, I had some doubts that I should bring it up. I didn’t want her to think that we were horrible parents and some sort of racists. She was very thankful that I told her about it and said that she hadn’t heard anyone of the kids saying anything like that but that she would be a little more vigilant in what she overhears. She gave us a book to read over the weekend and she said that she would incorporate it into class next week as well.
Let’s face it, having these conversations, both with our children and their educators, are more important than ever. It can be awkward or uncomfortable but not talking about it just makes it worse. I saw both of those conversations as opportunities to learn and grow, not just for my daughter but also, for me.
5 Ways to Raise Anti-Racists
- Read diverse books, both with your children and on your own.
- Provide diversity in your toy selection
- Talk to your school about how they plan to address diversity and inclusion – especially if you live in predominately white areas.
- Be the adult you want them to grow up to be – speak up with your peers say something racist.
- Educate yourself so that you can explain things to them at age-appropriate levels. Don’t rely on your POC friends to do this for you.
This is a great article for parents on how to talk about diversity.
This is a comprehensive anti-racist book list for kids from Ideal Bookshelf is fantastic.
I ordered a handful of books from Amazon for us to read at home. Karen Katz is one of my favorite children’s book authors, I was really excited when I saw she had this book.
I found this YouTube video about this book and decided to order it.
Finally, a classic book with a great message.