Explain race and racism to kids


UK Deaths: 39,728

UK Cases: 279,856

Worldwide Deaths: 383,994

Worldwide Cases: 6,500,866


This week saw the shocking death of George Floyd at the ‘hands’ of a police officer, which has prompted the #BLM movement to take action not only in the U.S but also in the UK.  The government had the audacity to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ when announcing the disproportionate rate of deaths to Asian, Caribbean and black ethnicities.  Yet they have known about this for months and only now announce #toolittletoolate #BLM

Conversations on Race and Racism

  • As early as 3-6 months of age, babies begin to notice and express preference by race (Bar-Haim, 2006).
  • Furthermore, between the ages of 3-5, children begin to apply stereotypes, categorize people by race, and express racial bias (Winkler, 2009).
  • And by just 6 years of age, children show a pro-white/anti-Black bias (Baron, 2006)

So clearly the earlier we can have the conversations with our kids the better, but how do you start that conversation…

Tips to explain race & racism to children:

1. Educate yourself first

“Parents can often feel reluctant to talk about race with children because they worry that they don’t know enough or will make a mistake,” says Dr Pragya Agarwal. “It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and to be aware of our own implicit biases that can affect our words and actions around our children. Children can pick up these implicit cues.”

Please consider following the below on Instagram to begin to understand.

2. Talk about diversity & use diverse books

As you can see from above, it is never too early to start talking about diversity, to explain race and racism to kids.  We should never tell children to be quiet or that talking about someone’s colour is awkward or embarrassing.  It should be encouraged but ensuring it is always done with respect and youthful curiosity.  A great way to aid this is to bring diverse books into children’s lives.

The below links have a wide range of books for children celebrating diversity and equality.

Or for unlimited resources then please consider following and becoming a patron of The Conscious Kid.  They are creating and compiling fantastic parenting and education resources through a critical race lens.

The Conscious Kid

3. Avoid using skin colour as an identifier, but don’t claim not to see colour

Try and not use skin colour as a way to identify someone, such as “the brown kid”, but instead focus on character.  However, we should not deny that we see colour.  Just as we can see the colour of clothes someone may be wearing, we can see skin colour.  “The problem is not about seeing colours, the problem is about hierarchies that we put among the colour, that’s the issue.” Freddie Harrel.

4. Showcase diverse role models, rituals & history

Introducing role models and stories from ALL cultures can help children take pride in their history and their own cultural heritage, as well as understanding others.  “This will help them develop a strong sense of identity and belonging, which is so crucial for their mental as well as physical health,” says Pragya.

Listen to Freddie Harrel and Dr Pragya Agarwal discuss how to talk to children about race and racism on the Woman’s Hour Parenting podcast.

What next?

It is no longer enough to just say we disagree.  We now need to stand up and show that we do!  It is vitally important that everyone feels the need to explain race and racism to kids.  We ALL need to have these conversations with our children.  Just as we talk to our children about sexuality, about puberty, about world events, race and diversity should be included too.

That is how we will teach our children that we are all equal, we all feel the same, that we need to ALL be the change!

Fay x

Have you discussed race and/or racism with your children already? Maybe they have asked you some questions you were unsure of how to answer?  I love to hear below of your experiences.