The recent protests around the country have brought to light the fact that racism is still very much a part of our society.
All around our city and country, we see hurting people, destruction and unjustness, and as parents, we think: What can we do? How can we help? We don’t claim to have all the answers, but to quote Mother Teresa, “Love begins at home,” so we can start our efforts there.
Here are five ways that you can help by teaching your children to be antiracist citizens of our beautifully diverse world.
1. Be the change you wish to see.
Global change starts in the home. If we want to teach our children to be antiracist citizens, we need to be antiracist citizens ourselves. Making comments that put down people because of their race, color, culture, religion, background, physical ability, socioeconomic status, education (the list goes on …) is not acceptable. We are role models for our children, and we need to model that we value everyone and acknowledge people as individuals. Our children need to see that their home is a place where people are accepted and celebrated for who they are.
2. Don’t put up with racism from others.
We can’t control the things that people say or do outside of our home — that’s just a given. But if we hear family members or friends say something racist, we need to have the courage to speak up. Our children need to see that their parents and caregivers do not accept racism against others — period. The nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center has gathered an extensive list of ways to speak up and respond to everyday bigotry. You can find the list here.
3. Be a friend to everyone. Encourage your kids to do the same.
The world is full of people who look different than you do, act differently than you might, and believe in different things than you do. And you know what? That’s a beautiful thing. Psychological research has shown that people tend to gravitate toward other people who look and act like they do. But, now is the time to think outside of the box and make an effort to expand your friend group. Your life — and your children’s lives — will be richer for inviting families of different cultures, backgrounds, races and lifestyles into your sphere.
4. Consume diverse media with your kids.
This means reading books to your children that include people who have skin colors, lifestyles or beliefs that might be different than your family’s. It means watching movies and TV shows that explore a wide array of cultures. Common Sense Media has compiled a list of children’s TV shows with diverse characters that you can explore, as well as ways that parents can use media to raise antiracist kids. Or you can go old school and ask your local librarian to help you find children’s books and other media that include diverse characters and stories that celebrate diversity. Any librarian would love to help you with this endeavor!
5. Introduce diversity into all aspects of your family life.
This can look like reading books and watching movies about people who are different than you (see point No. 4 above), and it can look like traveling — to other countries, states or even other parts of your own city — and being immersed in another culture and lifestyle. Even small experiences, like trying a new food from a culture that is different than yours, listening to music from another country, or visiting a park in a different part of town, can be an enriching experience. The point is to get your family to experience life outside of your bubble.