TALK EARLY, TALK OFTEN (TO KIDS ABOUT RACE)
From pandemic related losses, stay at home, BLM to AAPI, the past year has been filled with grief and outrage. The impacts of COVID-19 and systemic racism are pervasive but we can break the cycle by helping our kids understand what racism is, how it is manifested, and how to stand up to it.
Unfortunately, only 10% of parents talk to their kids about race often. It’s only 6% of white parents. Yet, we know that as early as age two, kids begin to internalize racial bias and use it to select playmates. That means we need to start talking to them EARLY and OFTEN for the message to stick.
How do we talk to them? With head and heart. Share our knowledge of the history of systemic, institutional racism, but also appeal to our kid’s innate sense of fairness and empathy to help them understand why this must change.
How do you do it?
1. Be aware of our own subconscious biases (no one is immune)
2. Have an ongoing conversation about race.
3. Teach kids that different isn't bad
4. Step off the sidelines, demand accountability.
The science behind it
🛑 Only 6% of white parents talk often to their kids about racial identity. This may come from a good place e.g. parents fear that talking about race may introduce a racial bias in their kids, but these good intentions are backfiring.
🛑 Starting at 3 months of age, children begin to show a preference for faces from their own racial group. Humans have a natural tendency to categorize based on traits to separate friend from foe as a survival mechanism.
🛑 Even minority children as young as 6 years old display an implicit pro-white bias. How long this bias persists as they grow older may depend on their social environment.
🛑 By ages 2 to 4, children can internalize racial bias.
🛑 By age 12, many children become set in their beliefs.