Even babies notice differences like skin color, eye shape and hair texture. Here’s how to handle conversations about race, racism, diversity and inclusion, even with very young children.
A few things to remember:
- Don’t shush or shut them down if they mention race.
- Don’t wait for kids to bring it up.
- Be proactive, helping them build a positive awareness of diversity.
- When a child experiences prejudice, grown-ups need to both address the feelings and fight the prejudices.
- You don’t have to avoid topics like slavery or the Holocaust. Instead, give the facts and focus on resistance and allies.
In addition to Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for Social Impact at Sesame Workshop, we spoke to Beverly Daniel Tatum: We recommend her TEDx talk as well as her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race.
- Babies begin to notice race at 6 months old — in fact, according to this pair of studies by Professor Kang Lee at the University of Toronto, they actually show signs of racial bias by this age.
- One in 10 children is multiracial — according to Pew Research Center. This includes children with parents of two different races, plus those with at least one multiracial parent.
- Watch the whole “I Love My Hair!” video from Sesame Street.
- Thanks to Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton. Derrick Gay, and Jinnie Spiegler of the Anti-Defamation League, which has a wide range of resources for anti-bias education.