We aren’t here as teachers for this resource We are here as parents. LaNesha 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.
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.