In the summer of 2020 issues of race took center stage like never before.
And it has left a lot of people asking “what can I do?”
From efforts to support Black owned businesses and increases in donations to social justice organizations, people are stepping up to work towards change.
This has parents asking the same question, as well as “how can I raise my kids to know what’s right?”
We’re New Horizons Wellness Service, a Black owned wellness clinic, and we want to offer some tips for parents looking to raise antiracist kids, at all stages of life.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Antiracism?
The political activist Angela Davis said “In a racist society it is not enough to be non racist, we must be antiracist.”
But what exactly does it mean to be antiracist?
You may never tell a joke which could be seen as offensive, but antiracism is challenging others when they make those same comments, however uncomfortable it might feel.
You would never harass someone for wearing a face or head covering such as a hijab, but do you intervene when you see others being harassed?
In short, antiracism is about action – and often times those actions will feel uncomfortable, at least the first few times.
“But I’m Not Racist”
You might be thinking “I’m not racist, that’s a good first step, right?”
But hold on a minute.
It’s important to acknowledge everyone has biases.
What is important is determining what your biases are and looking at how you can challenge them.
It’s also important to look at your own actions, and your friends group.
Do you have Black friends?
When you get together for drinks or book club, does everyone look like you?
Have you ever said things like “I don’t see color” or “I’m not racist because I have Black friends” but get uncomfortable when people bring up discussions of race?
Do you get defensive when someone suggests you have white privilege?
Then you might need to take a step back and examine why these things are the way they are and face these issues first.
In order to genuinely teach children about these issues, parents must first examine their own behavior.
How To Raise Antiracist Kids
As with anything, kids will mimic and copy the behaviors of their parents.
Here are some tips to approach antiracism with your kids, at all stages of life.
1. Antiracist Preschoolers
Here’s some good news for you: children don’t naturally discriminate.
It’s a learned behavior.
When children are young, parents can model and cultivate tolerance and compassion for others.
Children do notice differences – in skin color, in hairstyles, in the way people speak.
Of course they do.
But they don’t add value judgments to those differences – discrimination is learned from watching how others act in the world.
Provide exposure to people who don’t look like them – read books with characters who aren’t white, and watch television shows showing people from diverse backgrounds.
Normalizing diversity can go a long way toward preventing the seeds of racism from germinating in the first place.
2. Antiracist Primary Schoolers
As children start to get a bit older, talking to them about hate and injustice can get a little easier, but it doesn’t need to be a super formal, or heavy discussion.
Talk to them about what they are seeing and hearing – on TV, on the playground, and from other adults in their life.
Helping them to understand why it’s wrong to use derogatory words, and tuning into their sense of what is fair and unfair.
3. Antiracist Preteens
By this age, preteens are likely seeing instances of race based bullying at school.
Examples may be claiming to Latinx peers “ICE will come and get you”.
They are also really taking note of biased behaviors of those around them – whether it’s the neighbor complaining about the Black family which moved in down the street, or their uncle’s support of a border wall.
Talk to your children about what they are seeing and hear, but remember it may take some time for them to open up about these things.
4. Antiracist Teenagers
Teenage years are incredibly important for helping shape what sort of person your child will grow into.
If raised with values of compassion and acceptance, most will grow into kind, respectful adults.
However, for many reasons, including peer pressure and media exposure you may notice your teen starting to use biased language or even hate speech.
Question them on this, and remind them these things are not funny – even if they think it’s a joke.
Help them to challenge stereotypes and question why they are saying and doing these things.
Book An Appointment At New Horizons Wellness Services
Are you looking for more ways to speak to your children about antiracism?
Perhaps you want counseling for intercultural and interethnic relationships, or help addressing problem behaviors.
At New Horizons Wellness Services we can help.
Our integrative approach can help you address these issues with your children so you can be confident you’re raising antiracist kids.
Yours in Health,New Horizons Wellness Services
13333 SW 68th Pkwy,
Tigard, OR 97223
New Horizons Wellness Services provides a true multidisciplinary approach to mental & physical health treatments for children, adults and families.