We have to talk to our children about race, discrimination and racism. Like gender, sexuality and other big topics getting started can be intimidating. Here are Cool Mom Jamie tips for talking about race.

After a recent awkward situation that left me stumped, I reached out to my favorite website’s Facebook group, Offspring: A Lifehacker Parenting Group for some help!

Auditions are held in casting offices. These offices usually share one common waiting room with several smaller rooms for each separate project. At this audition there were mostly adult actors in the waiting room so I was getting out my toy bag knowing we’d have to be quiet. The door bursts open with a loud gust of wind. In walks a very tall, bald black man. As he makes his way to the sign in sheet #TheHandful turns to me and says loudly:

“Ooooohhh he is tall and CHOCOLATE”.

I hold my breath. Oh God he’s going to think I’m some crunchy Wannabe-Woke Wendy who in the absence of a brain refers to races as chocolate and vanilla in her house because she doesn’t want to have the tough talks about race that the rest of the world has to have. They’re going to think we call black people chocolate!!!!!

He laughs loudly. The room laughs. My relief is exhaled. I couldn’t escape the feeling that while I had good intentions about talking to her about race, I didn’t have much of a plan. I knew that I wanted her to understand that everyone is created equally but that they are not always treated equally.

And I went deep into my brain trying to figure out HOW to have an actual conversation about race. My kid described an individual as chocolate do I start there? When we get in the car I still have no plan so I table it for the drive home. I later make the genius decision to reach out to the Facebook group Offspring: A Lifehacker Parenting Group and got some GREAT tips from parents, professionals and people of color about how to facilitate ongoing discussions around race.

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I connected with writer Jareesa Tucker McClure (whose website JTM Writes is fantastic btw, go check it out) and she guided me through a better way to bring race into the conversation.

“So the first thing to address is actually your reaction – your child didn’t do anything wrong which is why the man just laughed.

A lot of white parents freeze up or feel embarrassed when their child comments on someone skin color and really there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, we all have skin color!

What you should avoid is teaching anything about being colorblind/not seeing color/race because that’s not the world we live in.”

Ahhhh. That is painfully obvious after she says it.

She continues:

“Trust me, that man has heard worse. I seriously doubt that he thought you refer to people as chocolate. And for the record, lots of Black people actually refer to themselves as “chocolate.”

Before taking the time to send me some awesome links (that I’ll share below) she concluded:

“This isn’t a “one and done” situation, more non-POC families need to make conversations about race part of their normal routines.”

A few commenters suggested pointing out the beauty in peoples different features if/when #TheHandful notices someone different than her next time. Many suggested making sure that books and tv shows she watches have lead characters who are of color – same with her toys. And, another commenter {who is also a woman of color} confirmed that “chocolate” is actually a compliment!

Meghan Moravcik Walbert, an editor at Lifehacker.com sent me ALL the Lifehacker pieces on race to help facilitate better discussions about race in our house. I’ll include those below as well as the links some helpful Lifehacker followers shared with me. They are great examples for how to keep the conversation going.

The main takeaway for me was don’t avoid the conversation. Avoiding the conversation is the equivalent of saying “I don’t see color” which is harmful and passes the buck back to people of color to deal with racism on their own. White parents benefit from privilege and that needs to be part of the conversation in addition to showing your child (via media, toys, relationships) that everyone has similar goals, fears and loves. And lastly the conversation isn’t just one time, it’s ongoing and evolving.

LINKS:

Jareesa’s suggestions:

Talking Race With Young Children

“This is a good 20min segment from NPR with additional resources” – https://www.npr.org/…/talking-race-with-young-children

“There’s also a group that holds workshops/webinars and has a great website with book recommendations, talking points, etc.”
Raising Race Conscious Children – http://www.raceconscious.org/

Lifehacker:

How To Talk To Kids About Race

What To Do When Your Child Uses The N Word

Talk To Your Kids About Racist Stereotypes in Disney+ Movies

How To Talk To Young Kids About Race

Links other posters shared:

Newsweek: Nurtureshock

Mighty Girl – books for kids about racism & discrimination

Race is Not a Four Letter Word

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