As I follow protests in major cities, small cities, suburban areas, and throughout the world, I get the feeling that we as a people are finally beginning to get it. We finally won’t put up with racist police brutality, confederate statues, voter suppression, and implicit racism that permeates our society. Our country is in the midst of a movement towards more fairness and more equality.
Babies are not born racists. They learn racism from their families, peers, and people in their communities. If we can teach children to see and treat all people as equals from the beginning, we will go forward many steps towards equality.
Many of us who are parents are wondering how to best talk about racism with our children. Talking and understanding are two different things. We can gain greater understanding and empathy through conversation, literature, and film.
1. Watch the news together and discuss the protests and their implications. Even read and discuss news articles and editorials from trusted sources.
2. Do you or your children have friends of different races, religions, or ethnicity? If so, converse with them about their experiences that may have made them feel like outsiders. Is your family a minority race, religion, or ethnicity? You and your children can share your own experiences with others.
3. One of the reasons we at Tutoring For Success encourage reading for pleasure is to learn about life in different cultures and experience empathy for diverse characters. I recently came across an article that has an excellent list of books for various ages that explore the experiences of African Americans, Chinese Americans, American Indians, and other groups that have been marginalized: Children’s Books That Tackle Race and Ethnicity
4. Watch powerful movies like Selma, Harriott, Hidden Figures, Mississippi burning, and If Beale Street could Talk ( the latter for mature audiences).
5. Teach your children to take action. Write to your representatives about your concerns and stances. Talk about and practice inclusion. If someone makes a racist comment about any person or group, speak up.
We clearly have a long way to as a country to achieve equality. We can all do our share by working to gain a greater understanding of feeling marginalized, helping to change racist views, and taking a stance.
By Cheryl Gedzelman, President