It is heartbreaking to see that racism still exists in our country. The recent murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police is a stark reminder of this. And it’s critical that we talk to kids about racism.
Did you know that 10% of black men are behind bars on any given day? This is twice as high as Hispanic men and five times higher than white men. Roughly 20% of black men have spent time in jail compared to 3% of white men.
This has to stop. We cannot allow this injustice to continue. One way we can help change the racist culture we live in is to help the next generation avoid this sin. Here are some tips as you talk about racism with kids.
If you have children, then racism, civil disobedience and police brutality are areas that you need to talk with them about. It’s important to address the killings and protests honestly and in an age appropriate way. Many parents struggle with how to protect their children from seeing the worst of the protests and violence while trying to explain the sin of racism at the same time.
Here are some tips that can help you talk to kids about racism.
It’s important to start early when you talk to kids about racism. According to Dr. Jacqueline Doug’e, a pediatrician and child health advocate, children can internalize racial bias between the ages of 2 and 4. Doctors say while children younger than 3 aren’t going to understand what is happening on television, they will be able to pick up on the “fear, urgency or anger in people’s voices and behavior. Stress will show up in fussy or unregulated behavior.” To keep this from happening, parents should watch the news when the child is not present.
And according to Dr. Marietta Collins, a clinical psychologist at Morehouse School of Medicine, if you have preschoolers, you should start discussing racial differences in a positive way. A parent can explain what melanin is and talk about how wonderful it is that the world has so many different kinds of people.
Older children will be more in tune with what’s going on. Parents should assume that their children know what is going on. They will pick up news from social media, talking with friends or seeing the emotions of those close to them. Once you access what they know, you can talk with them about what is happening without being too explicit.
Dr. Collins said that with older children, you should focus on how unfairly black people have been treated throughout American history to the present day, because fairness is something all children can understand.
Dr. Dougé suggested starting with something like: “There are things happening in the news that are upsetting us. Unfortunately there were police officers that made bad choices for the wrong reasons because of the color of someone’s skin.”
Children may also become afraid when they see or hear about all the violence that has been taking place so it’s important to talk to kids about racism. Assure them that you will keep them safe. Let your child know that there are people working really hard to make sure racism doesn’t continue. And let them know what you are doing to help with this.
How do you talk to kids about racism when they’re preteens or teens? Pre-teens and teens will most likely be seeing all the news coverage on their personal smartphones. Parents can ask them whether they have seen anything like about the riots and protests, what they think and what about it was upsetting or inspiring.
Many pre-teens and teens communicate with their friends through social media. Reposting. Retweeting. Instagram post. Facebook post. Messenger. Social media gives them an avenue to be part of online activism with their friends and family.
It is not enough to talk about racism, you must strive to be anti-racist and fight against racist policies and practices. If you have the privilege, make space, speak up or amplify issues of inequity and injustice. Children see everything. -Dr. Heart Garris
You can also talk to kids about racism by providing your child with books and movies that have racially diverse characters. Parents can make good use of movies and documentaries that can educate older teens on the history of discrimination. These can be used to jump start conversations about racism and how they can help fight it.
To me, one of the best things about heaven will be the diversity of those that will be there. We get a great description of this in Revelation 7:9: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
Let’s continue to stand against racism. Proactively stand. The more we work toward seeing racism defeated, the more we will have a little bit of heaven on earth.
This article about how to talk to kids about racism originally appeared here.