A White Families’ Guide For Talking About Racism

Share on pinterest
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

*click ANY image in this post to be taken to the product.

White families, if you’re here, we hope it’s because you’re ready to start having important conversations with your children about racism and actively planning what your family can do to help.

We aren’t here as teachers for this post. We are here as parents. Naomi and I are primary teachers. We have been working together (from across the country) since 2016, coming up with the social studies curriculum that we wish we had when we were little. For such a time as this, we decided to create a resource for white parents to engage their young children.

The guide is intended for caregivers to use with their white children. If you have children who are not white, but who are also a part of your family, this guide is not for them. Black, indigenous, and other children of color DO NOT need to be present while you process through how you may have been complicit in racism. This will cause them further harm and trauma.

We decided to have a conversation on Instagram Live regarding the questions we were getting. This video will address all of those questions! Please click here to view the video!  

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We wanted to (hopefully) clear up which one of our guides might be best for you family.

A post shared by Naomi O’Brien (@readlikearockstar) on


 

Look through the entire guide and take notes. Familiarize yourself with the content, so that you can feel prepared to facilitate a conversation. Read up on the definitions and think of simpler terms or analogies you may need to use to help your kids understand. You should also be ready to share times that you personally have seen or taken part in racism. Explain to your kids what happened. You may need to explain what you would change about what you did or the lesson you learned.

Remember this: Your kids are exposed to racism all of the time, whether or not you’ve ever labeled it for them. They see unfair things happening and they hear racist comments. Giving them the tools and vocabulary they need to recognize it and speak up about it will help them feel empowered to be a part of the solution and show a Black friend, stranger, or classmate that they can depend on your child to be an *ally. (See image below for a note on allyship)

We need you to know that you and your kids can do racist things, even if you don’t identify yourself as a racist person. In the same way that a nice person can sometimes do or say mean things that are out of character, so can you or your children when it comes to doing or saying racist things. Now that you’ve committed to being more aware, you may notice things more clearly and be able to call it out every time you see it. And you’ll be able to change your behavior and apologize when you need to.

It may feel weird to tell your kid(s) they’ve done something racist. But it’s helpful to be direct. You aren’t going to yell at them about it, but you will need to remind them that it’s wrong. They will quickly learn to distinguish between what’s just being mean and what’s actually racist. Our own children have similar lessons. We, Black parents, have to teach them to identify racism they are experiencing, so that they can come tell us about it and can learn to advocate for themselves.

Make sure to also tell your kids WHY you all are focusing on being an ally to the Black community. Remind them that, everyone matters, but right now, you are focusing on the Black community and the racism they experience.

It’s important to tie racism into history. You know your child best. If you need to research enslavement, segregation, Jim Crow laws, protests, Juneteenth, white supremacy, and police brutality before engaging with your children so you feel prepared to answer their questions about where racism came from or why people are racist, make sure you do this before you sit down to have a lesson with them. Again, being prepared to have the conversation, will make you feel more comfortable. It will help you explain in your own words why this work is important for your family.

Throughout our guide you will see symbols that serve as visual cues. Sometimes your child will be asked to stop and reflect. Sometimes there will be a question to answer. We encourage caregivers to answer the questions, too. It is helpful for kids to see they are not alone in their feelings, thoughts, or experiences.

There is also a symbol for questions. Don’t forget to stop periodically to see how your child is processing the information. How are they feeling? What are they confused about? What would they like to know? Encourage them to ask! Be mindful of your tone or your facial expressions so that kids are not inadvertently discouraged from sharing honest answers. Remember, anything they’ve learned (from you or elsewhere) can be unlearned.

We made sure to include many exercises and questions that could lead to deeper conversations, but we can’t have the conversations for you. These lessons are only as effective as you allow them to be.

Here are some articles and book links that will help you with this resource:

CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO PURCHASE. 

We hope you can shift away from thinking these conversations are too hard to have, to realizing these conversations are too important NOT to have.

Best,

LaNesha and Naomi

Because we realize the value of important topics like this, LaNesha and I love to make sure our own students and children are exposed to a variety of much needed social studies lesson. We teach kindergarten and first grade, but our students continue to amaze us with the big ideas they are able to handle!

What are your children learning in school for social studies? How diverse are the books being presented to them at school? It’s important for parents to continue to take an active role in what their students are learning!

You can push for culture nights at your school. Ask what anti-racist work your child’s school engages in. You may also want to ask how important inclusion and diversity is for every classroom in your child’s building.

Together, we can make a difference.

Click here to check out the social studies resources we have created. Consider purchasing a unit for a teacher to use. They are K-2 friendly!

K-2 Social Studies

JOIN THE LIST

Thanks! Keep an eye on your inbox for updates.

LaNesha Tabb

LaNesha Tabb

Wife, Mama of 2, and apron wearing primary educator from Indianapolis.

Share on pinterest
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

You Might Also Like...

16 thoughts on “A White Families’ Guide For Talking About Racism”

  1. I just want to confirm that this product and content is written and published by people of color. They get to control this narrative. No white person can know more and be able to educate better than a black person on this issue. We white people need to step back and look to black people to educate us on how we should act to be a positive actor for change.

    Reply
    • Hi there! We’ve been responding to this question with a snippet of feedback that we received from a mom who started it: “What’s blowing my mind is at 7 how much society has already impacted him. How my lack of being intentional has impacted him. I should have been doing this since he was born. This one resource taught me all of that. A 10 min activity.” -Staci E. (actual feedback posted on our Instagram account). Hope that helps!! Thanks!!

      Reply
  2. We are a mixed family.. I am white and my partner is black and my daughter is white passing. I have not previously spoken to my 5 year old daughter about colour of skin..
    Would this book be helpful for us?

    Reply
  3. Hello! I tried the link to your video here and in the post above, but it’s not taking me to the right place. Wanted to let you know it may not be working.

    I’m wondering what the youngest is that this would work for. Thank you!

    Reply
    • I’m so sorry, Sandy! It appears to be working on my end, I’m not sure why. Try here The age question is hard to answer, but I’ve been sharing some feedback from another parent that might help. She says “What’s blowing my mind is at 7 how much society has already impacted him. How my lack of being intentional has impacted him. I should have been doing this since he was born. This one resource taught me all of that. A 10 min activity.” -Staci E. (actual feedback posted on our Instagram account). Hope that helps!! Thanks!!

      Reply
  4. This is so wonderful that you have done the work to explain racism. And how it effects black or people of color. Your definitions of racism, white privilege, bias, ally or co-conspirators educational. And so needed not only in the white community. But can help black people in general and also black families. I’ve been fighting against racism sakes like all my life. And I’m 57 years old. I believe in my heart that change had to come. But I never image in my life time. It takes doing the work to make a difference. I believe not only having hard conversations, but changing your heart and mind can be a much needed impact. Which I think has to happen in order for systemic changes. I’m so proud to see your reading sections, curriculum, and month to educational materials. I hope I have expressed my gratitude for a job well done. I wish I had the ability myself. I will definitely pass on you website, material and everything you have to offer. What you guys have done is phenomenal! As Dr. Maya Angelo would say you are “Phenomenal Woman.”

    Thank you so much!

    Myra
    Adjunct College Faculty
    Creative Director and
    Graphic Designer
    Abilene, Texas
    myrajoyce1@yahoo.com

    Reply
  5. I actually disagree. It’s my responsibility as a white person to step up and figure this out. It’s not a black person of color’s job at all. These women are giving me, as a white woman, so much grace by offering us their thoughts, time and energy. I am so grateful and humbled. But, it is our job to step up and educate ourselves and then accept feedback gracefully and humbly when we make mistakes. Because we are going to make mistakes. But, I want to be clear. It is not their job to educate us.

    Reply
  6. Quick Question: I teach all kiddos- 1st grade- inner city. Do I need all 3? Would one work best with a group of mixed races? I see great value in this discussion. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hello! None of these would be appropriate for a school setting. We would not recommend teachers using this guide as it is designed for parents to unpack their own biases and racism with their children…and that could be harmful to a classroom full of students. We DO believe racism should be taught and discussed in class….just not with these guides. THanks!!!

      Reply

Leave a Reply