Children begin learning about racism as soon as they start interacting with the world. If you’re not teaching your children about racism, then who is? Start early. Talk often.
In August 2021, IPG DXTRA launched “Dear White Parents,” a public awareness campaign that calls on white parents to have candid discussions about race and systemic racism with their children. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a partner in the project, developed this discussion guide to help families engage in conversations about the film and about race and racism in society. The guide includes relevant words and definitions; discussion questions to initiate conversations before, after and going beyond the video; talking points for providing context; and continuing the conversation and additional resources.
Conversations about racism and discrimination will look different for each family. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the science is clear: the earlier parents start the conversation with their children the better. In addition, this work is ongoing and takes a lot of personal reflection on our own experiences with race. Check out the resource guides below to help start the conversation.
At this age, children may begin to notice and point out differences in people they see around them. Babies notice physical differences, including skin color, from as early as 6 months. Studies have shown that by age 5, children can show signs of racial bias, such as treating people from one racial group more favorably than the other. As a parent, you have the opportunity to gently lay the foundation of their worldview. Use language that’s age-appropriate and easy for them to understand. Check out the resource guides below to help start the conversation.
Children this age are better at talking about their feelings and are eager for answers. They are also becoming more exposed to information they may find hard to process. Ignoring or avoiding the topic isn’t protecting children, it’s leaving them exposed to bias that exists wherever we live. Children who encounter racism, can be left feeling lost while trying to understand why they are being treated a certain way, which in turn can impact their long-term development and well-being. Start by understanding what they know. Check out the resource guides below to help start the conversation.
Teenagers are able to understand abstract concepts more clearly and express their views. They may know more than you think they do and have strong emotions on the topic. Try to understand how they feel and what they know, and keep the conversation going. Check out the resource guides below to help start the conversation.
Older teenagers are able to understand and have more personal experience with expressing their views. Try to understand how they feel, what are their experiences and intentions, and help them to understand the impact of their views. Ultimately, keep the conversation going. Check out the resource guides below to help start the conversation.