Preparing for Difficult Conversations: The Importance of Talking to Your Child about Race

At The Summit, we believe in progressive education. Being progressive means always looking for ways to learn, to improve, and to open our minds to more. An important tenet of progressive education is social responsibility. Together, we create a strong community with the knowledge, skills, and resources to think critically about the problems in an increasingly fractured world so that we may enact change. All of us, for each of us.

As a society, we are currently engaged in a national discourse on racism. These can be challenging conversations, especially between parents and children. We don’t want to say the wrong thing. We don’t want to make ourselves or others uncomfortable. Yet it is in silence where misconceptions and stereotypes can propagate, unchecked and unchallenged.

If you would like to start a conversation with your child about race and racism, but you’re not sure where to start, the following resources provide meaningful perspective and practical tools and advice on how to begin a conversation that is age-appropriate and impactful.

Color Blind or Color Brave? (video)
TEDTalk presented by Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments, on the importance of having conversations about color in order to educate others on racial inequality–being “color brave”–rather than color blind.

How Silence Can Breed Prejudice: A Child Development Professor Explains How and Why to Talk to Kids about Race (article)
Brigitte Vittrup’s Washington Post article on how silencing children when they ask questions or comment on racial differences implicitly labels the subject as taboo and may unintentionally perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

Raising Race-Conscious Children (article)
A conversation between two mothers, Lori Taliaferro Riddick and Sachi Feris, on how to engage in conversations about race with young children and the importance of representation.

Talking Race with Young Children (audio)
Part of the NPR and Sesame Workshop (the researchers behind Sesame Street) Life Kit podcast series. This episode focuses on how to discuss race and racial inequality in supportive, age-appropriate ways with young children.

How Can Parents Make Their Kids Understand How to Be Anti-Racist (audio)
NPR’s Noel King interviews children’s author Renee Watson and anti-racism scholar Ibram Kendi on how to talk to young children about race, racism, and the distinction between “not racist” and “anti-racist.”

As leaders in progressive education, it is our responsibility to listen, to learn, and to do more. Head of School, Dr. Kathryn Heet, states, “The Summit is committed to fostering an inclusive environment that celebrates and recognizes all individuals.” Together with the Board of Trustees, Dr. Heet and The Summit team are evaluating the school’s efforts in supporting and celebrating diversity through our programming and as a community.

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