Helping Children to Understand Racism

Racists, Social Issues, Discrimination

Children Might Be Thinking:

  • I know this is an important topic, but I don’t really get it. 
  • People seem very emotional about this. How can I better understand?
  • I want to do the right thing and not hurt anybody. 
  • Some kids are different at school and sometimes I point it out. 
  • I see differences between me and my classmates. 
  • I don’t really understand why I shouldn’t say certain things.
  • Other kids say things that they get in trouble for. I don’t really know why they get in trouble. 
  • I want to learn more about things that matter. 
  • It is hard for me to understand something like this.
  • I care about everyone in my class. 

Words That Might Be Encouraging:

  • These topics are hard for adults to understand. You will learn things in time, as long as you keep trying. 
  • Sometimes people have ideas about certain groups which can either help or hurt people in those groups. It is important to know what these ideas are, and to be thoughtful when talking to others. 
  • Treat your friends and classmates with compassion. They may say things you do not understand, which is okay, but always try to see their perspective without judging them. 
  • It’s okay to be confused about these things. All that matters is that you keep an open mind and try your best. 
  • If someone says something about your racial background that hurts your feelings, you can always come and talk to me about it. We will think about it together. 
  • When interacting with other kids, sometimes you might unintentionally hurt their feelings. This is okay and happens to everyone, even me! Simply apologize and try to figure out how you can prevent the situation from happening again. 
  • You are a very kind person. I know that you will have a better understanding of these things as you grow older and continue to appreciate other people's perspectives. 
  • If you ever have any questions about these things, just let me know. If I don’t know the answer, we will figure it out as a team. 
  • I will always be here to support you as you explore these important topics. We can read books and watch videos, and keep learning together. 
  • I promise not to judge you if something embarrassing or hurtful happens related to race or your family. We can always talk about it. 

Words That Might Be Discouraging:

  • You shouldn’t see color or race.
  • Racism isn’t real. 
  • Why are you thinking about these things? These matters are for adults. 
  • Just treat everyone the same way and you’ll be fine. 
  • You are (disadvantaged/privileged). That’s all you need to know. 
  • People make a bigger fuss about these things than is necessary.
  • Certain groups need more help than others because they aren’t smart/don’t work as hard, etc. 
  • Don’t listen to your teachers if they make a big deal about race. 
  • Jokes about race are the best jokes! 
  • If anyone ever makes fun of you or hurts you, you have to fight back. 
  • I am not the person to ask about these things. 
  • Racism is a thing of the past. 
  • Everyone is the same. We’re all a part of the human race. 
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