As Parents, How Do You Talk To Kids About Race?
By: Aesha Adams-Roberts
"Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had, and dealing with fears you didn't know existed."
If I were still teaching college students, I would be bracing myself for an uncomfortable, yet necessary, discussion of the George Zimmerman verdict. I'm no stranger to leading hard conversations about race, gender and other hard topics. As a professor, I encouraged my students to get real and raw about the things no one likes to talk about. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it, especially when I read notes from students who told me the disucssions we'd had in class helped them understand the people they shared a dorm room with.
As a professor, I could give my students something to read to start the conversation. As a parent, however, I don't know where to begin. What do you say to your children about hard things in life like the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case? Or the Sandy Hook shooting? Or the little girl on the playground who asks your beautiful daughter, "Why is your skin so dark?"
Whatever your throughs are on how the case turned out, the fact remains that a child is no longer alive. Tragedies that end in the death of a child remind us that there is so much beyond our control as parents, no matter how much you want to protect them. These tragedies also remind us of our responsibilites to create a better world for our kids.
I believe part of that responsiblity is having difficult conversations with our kids and trusting God to give us wisdom. As KJ Dell’Antonia, the lead parenting blogger at the New York Times, writes: "It’s the children whose parents do directly address race — and directly means far more than vaguely declaring everyone to be equal — who are less likely to make assumptions about people based on the color of our skin." (KJ uses apps from the Race Awareness Project to help her kids talk about it!)
So let's begin the conversation now. I know it's tough, but it's worth it.
Have you talked about about race with your children? Why or why not?