“This is part of parenting. This is part of the process. If we are raising humans to live in this multicultural, multiracial society, we have an obligation first to them, but also frankly to humanity, to be willing to be vulnerable and have those deep conversations.”
In celebration of Nicole’s new book, Raising Antiracist Kids: The Power of Intentional Conversations about Race and Parenting, DEI expert Desiree Adaway interviews Nicole about how to have difficult conversations with children about race.
What is revealed: the research is well established and uncontroversial when it comes to what children need to understand and better navigate race and racism. They need consistent, imperfect engagement throughout their lives with their parents.
What gets in the way? The discomfort of adults.
Throughout this conversation it becomes more and more clear: we begin with our young children with simple, basic explanations and conversations, and as they mature, so do the conversations. We weave in more nuance and complexity. This seems obvious, and yet parents and caregivers get bogged down with not having all the answers up front, or are silenced by myths such as “my kids don’t see race” or “talking about race will scare my child.”
Desiree and Nicole together make it clear that even though these conversations may be difficult for parents, for our children it eases a burden. Parents can and need to create a space for children to come and grapple without shame. Rather than having to make meaning on their own, they learn they can rely on and trust their parents for support.
Parents’ avoidance and silence gives children information as well. Children learn what we believe by our body language, “shushing” and facial expressions. They learn there are certain topics that are bad or shameful. Add in racist messaging (whether implicit or explicit) from the media, our schools and houses of worship, and with yet another generation, we’ve perpetuated a cycle of harm rather than interrupted it.
This conversation is a rich one. It will give you tools and more confidence to jump in. And yet, because we are working against generations of avoidance, you may need more support. Purchase a copy of Raising Antiracist Kids: The Power of Intentional Conversations about Race and Parenting and get in community. Gather some parenting friends together to read and support one another. Share a copy with someone else in your family to begin to shift the culture in your own extended family.
And please join us in the Inclusive Life community on Facebook where you will find like minded people who are devoted to their antiracist journeys.
Desiree and Nicole talked about:
- The origin story of Raising Antiracist Kids: The Power of Intentional Conversations about Race and Parenting
- Nicole’s interview project with white parents and her findings
- The importance of white parents learning to talk to kids about being white
- How children are learning about race from our non-verbal cues
- Why it’s important to talk to your children about race before they’re 10 years old (and actually much earlier!)
- How kids who say or do racist things most often are not being raised by racist parents
- The importance of reading children’s books about Black brilliance and Black people living normal lives
- The research is clear and established: we know what children need when it comes to conversations about race
- Doing antiracism work in community. Read Raising Antiracist Kids: The Power of Intentional Conversations About Race and Parenting with your friends and family
Desiree Adaway (she/her/hers), Founder of The Adaway Group, is a seasoned non-profit consultant, trainer, coach and speaker building resilient equitable and inclusive organizations.
She has over 25 years of experience creating, leading and managing international, multicultural teams through major organizational changes in over 40 countries. Desiree has crafted and administered partnerships that have secured over $10.5 million in funding from a variety of private and corporate resources.
As the Senior Director of Mobilization for Habitat for Humanity she was responsible for planning the strategy and training for hundreds of membership organizations, totaling more than 50,000 members. She was responsible for the overall strategy and DEI plans for 1,600 US affiliates and one million volunteers globally.
From this experience Desiree knows that if you want to create real and lasting change in the world you can’t expect to get something better if you’re doing the things you’ve always done.
Desiree’s presentations have a mix of thought-provoking content presented with humor and wit. When she teaches, she makes a point to connect with every person and create a brave space for their growth. Desiree is known by staff, senior leadership, peers, and partners as facilitating open, honest, and productive conversations that transform organizational culture.She is not afraid of addressing anything that gets in the way of the work. Her style is positive, approachable, engaging, service-oriented, and audience-centered.
Desiree holds a vision for people’s lives, workplace and communities until they can hold it for themselves.
Click here to get the book Raising Antiracist Kids: The Power of Intentional Conversations About Race and Parenting
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