This is a guest article written in partnership with Alexandra Scott, Founder of Ditto Kids magazine.
So far this year, so many people have been exhaling wistful sighs about 2020 and how challenging it is and when is it going to end and how is this our reality?? I’m right there with them! The new realities for many families surrounding COVID-19 are challenging, to say the least, the divided nature of our country politically and the attendant sense of impending moral bankruptcy, and everything going on with surrounding racial equality … well, that’s not something new to 2020 at all.
Still, many parents, particularly white parents, are awakening to the fact that the America they live in isn’t always the same America that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) live in. Parents want to guide their kids to not just understand this, but to become actively anti-racist and help make the world a more equitable place for everyone. There are many ways to navigate the anti-racist journey, a journey that many parents are challenging themselves to make.
Here are 5 ideas to help parents as they guide their kids through their journey of anti-racism.
- It’s crucial to do the work for yourself. As a parent or primary home caregiver, you are your child’s first and primary teacher. They look to you for everything! They’re watching to see who your friends are, how you react to news of injustice, and they pay close attention to what you say or don’t say about race. In general, yeah, it’s mildly terrifying that our kids watch us all the time, but what a gift that even in a world that is beating down their little doors with a million conflicting ideas, if we educate ourselves in this work and act on it, the values we instill—love, compassion, self-respect, equality, and justice—will be the ones that stick.
- Consistency counts! This isn’t a one-time talk. It’s an evolving conversation over the course of your child’s life. If I told my kid to brush their teeth once and never again for the rest of their childhood … we’d have a problem. Everyone needs repetition with increasing knowledge that’s in tandem with increasing comprehension. The same holds true for anti-racism work!
- Know you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. While yes, educating yourself is important. And it will take significant time and energy. But, you don’t need to be doing thesis amounts of work. There are many anti-bias/anti-racism educators that teach themselves or create resources available. Ditto Kids magazine is a great resource to help you open up these important conversations with your child in a way that will empower them, not overwhelm them, but help guide them on their journey to becoming actively anti-racist. There are so many more out there! Support BIPOC educators and writers who are making these resources.
- Your child and family don’t exist in a vacuum! Bring these resources to your wider community. Take inventory of you and your children’s days, environment, and routine. Where can you as a caregiver and eventually maybe as a family, step in and make the environment better and more just for a BIPOC family or child?
- Be willing to be humble and teach your kids this quality as well. I saw a meme that went around that said something along the lines of, “Things we should get comfortable saying on social media: I don’t know enough about that topic to comment on it … I need to take some time to think about this … My feelings make my judgment of this issue a bit cloudy …” If only we could all have this mindset when we find ourselves in a situation where … we don’t really know … instead of getting defensive and upset to cover up our embarrassment or our hurt. The anti-racist journey requires that we be humble. That we be willing to apologize. That we be willing to accept that you’re human and you make mistakes. Because of your wonderful humanity, you can learn and grow and change and work to help create a more just world. And you can teach your children that they can do the same.
About the Guest Author
Alexandria Scott is a writer, educator, and community advocate. She helps readers better connect students and educators as well as children and parents to access and internalize multicultural and anti-bias education. She also is the founder and managing editor of Ditto Kids magazine, an anti-racism magazine that empowers parents and educators to guide kids ages 3.5-11 on their anti-racism journey.