Archive of ‘Racism’ category

How to Talk to Your Kids about Race and Racism

child at protest

 
There might be a misconception that children are too young to learn about race. However, it is usually adults who feel uncomfortable talking about racial differences with their child because it may “put ideas in their heads.” Or other adults may feel that children cannot see or understand race because they are so young, which is why conversations about race and racism go unexplored. 

  • Children learn most of their information through direct teachings and modeling from their parents, which is why it is important that parents have meaningful conversations with their children about these issues. 
  • There is an overwhelming amount of research showing that children are not only able to recognize race during infancy, but they also develop racial biases and prejudices between the ages of three and five. 
  • Children are not colorblind but rather are blank canvases. They cannot develop biases and prejudices about race until they are specifically taught to do so. 

So what can parents do to start open and honest conversations about race with their children? 

Parents, be aware of your own biases 

The first step parents can take is to understand their own implicit and explicit biases. Explore how these inclinations can mislead or misdirect your children’s perceptions of difference, race, and diversity. Instead of waiting for others to teach you, take it up on yourself to listen, learn, and ask questions about how your long-held beliefs may be creating barriers and influencing judgment. 
Some reflective questions to ask yourself: How do I navigate race ? How do I discuss race in front of my family ? How do I own up to my mistakes of racism ? 

Use books 

Books are a collaborative and educational resource for you and your child to have direct conversations about race. Stories connect the readers to the information being told, whether it may be about how we celebrate different holidays, honor people of color, or cherish moments in history. They can also be stepping stones to ask thought provoking questions like: What was the story was about ?  How were the subjects in the story treated ? Were there themes of discrimination, prejudice, or privilege present ? How does this story relate to my own understanding of race ? Do not underestimate children and their ability to understand and absorb these complex and important issues. 

Recommended Books: 

  • All the Colors We are (Age 3-6)
  • Don’t Touch my Hair (Age 4-7)
  • Mixed (Age 4-8)
  • Let’s Talk about Race (Age 4-8)
  • The Proudest Blue (Age 4-8)
  • New Kid (Age 8-12)
  • Young Water Protectors (Age 9-12) 

Teach your child to own up to their mistakes 

Inevitably, your child will say or do something explicitly or implicitly racist and in these moments you can teach your child a valuable lesson about responsibility. This can equip them with the tools to learn and understand the harm that was done and what they can do to repair it. There may be an inclination for your child to defend, excuse, or blame others for these mistakes; however, this is an opportunity to teach your child how they can repair ruptures using remorse and self-responsibility. 

Ask your child how they feel – directly 

Having direct heart to heart conversations about how your child perceives race and racism can create dialogues about what they are seeing, thinking, and believing. Over time, these conversations will evoke trust, acceptance, and understanding between you and your child. By no means is navigating race and racism easy. However, talking openly with your child and giving them a space they can be curious, will reinforce the belief that they can come to their parents to process and explore these difficult topics. 

Written by: Geetha Pokala, LPC-Associate, Supervised by Kirby Schroeder LPC-S, LMFT-S

Meet Geetha!


“What Do You See?”

A Poem for my fellow AAPI community

I see the beautiful blue sky 

I see different colors exist in this world 

I see humanity

I see harmony

What do you see?

I only wish you could see what I see

I see hatred in your eyes

I see injustice right before my eyes

I want to ask you why

I hear cheerful birds singing

I hear people conversing in different languages

I hear joy

I hear peace

What do you hear?

I only wish you could hear what I hear

I hear you asking us to leave

I hear you saying racial slurs

I want to ask you why

I feel the warmth of the morning sun

I feel safe being me

I feel loved

I feel secured

What do you feel?

I only wish you could feel what I feel

I feel invisible in front of you

I feel you pushing me away

I want to ask you why

I smell the fragrance of the spring flowers

I smell the home-cooked meal prepared by my parents

I smell compassion

I smell kindness

What do you smell?

I only wish you could smell what I smell

I smell blood in your hands

I smell fear when you come near

I want to ask you why

I taste the sweetness of being alive

I taste the joy of solidarity

I taste hope

I taste truth

What do you taste?

I only wish you could taste what I taste

I taste the bitterness of being silent by you

I taste the sourness of swallowing pain 

I want to ask you why

As an Asian American mental health worker, it absolutely breaks my heart to see my own community being attacked.  These attacks do not only cause physical harm to the victims but also psychological harm that we often do not see from the outside.  According to Mental Health America, experiences of race-based discrimination can have detrimental psychological impacts on individuals and their wider communities.  The month of May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, together let’s raise mental health awareness in the AAPI community.  Now more than ever, we must take care of our mental health.  Please reach out and do not suffer in silence.  You and your mental health matter.  

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

– Confucius
Written by: Catherine Mok, M.A., LMSW Supervised by Melissa Haney, LCSW-S