Resources for Talking with Our White Children About Racism

Author’s note: It has been brought to our attention that this post exposes a bias, an assumption that anyone reading it would be white. I apologize for not explicitly stating that intention. I would like to clarify that I am a white person with children, and this post is meant to provide a list of resources to help white parents talk to our children about race. We are in the privileged position of not having to think about racism in our daily lives. The resources suggested here are meant to move us out of our privileged comfort zone and help us start and sustain the difficult conversations we have been avoiding. The conversations are necessary and are just a small part of all that needs to be done to dismantle systemic racism. I believe they are a crucial first step, and the resources listed here are meant to help those of us who need help making that first step.

As the George Floyd protests continue throughout the world, many of us are turning inward, examining our own biases and principles surrounding race and racism and asking ourselves what we can do to play our part in dismantling the repeated, systemic and lethal racism we are witnessing in this country. Our children, too, are asking questions. Difficult questions that, frankly, we might not want to answer.

Within the child lies the fate of the future.Dr. Maria Montessori

The truth is that talking about racism is complex, heartbreaking and sometimes ugly. As white people, we might want to protect our children, and ourselves, from the emotional difficulty of these conversations, but avoiding the topic is not a solution. Racism will not go away if we avoid talking about it. The questions—our children’s questions—need to be answered.

I will not pretend to know the right way to discuss racism with our children. But I do know we have to try. We have to listen to the experiences of people of color. We have to examine our own implicit biases—because we all have them. We have to honestly address and discuss our country’s history of treating black people and other people of color with hatred and injustice. And we have to keep learning how to do better.

Below is a list of resources to help us all keep talking with our children about racism, including a couple of lists of books for children and adults. Please use them to get started on these difficult conversations and to keep the conversations going into the future.