The Great Divide

How parents can raise and teach their kids to be anti-racist, according to educators and activists

Allison Slater Tate
Twenty20 | Amy Engelsman

Racism and violence against black people has been a problem in America for hundreds of years. But with recent events and protests, there's a feeling the country could be headed toward "a turning point for real change," as President Barack Obama wrote in an essay for Medium.

If you are a parent looking for resources to help you raise and teach your kids to be anti-racist, you might not know where to start. We followed the direction of educators and activists of different races to give you some ideas.

It starts at home

"I hope that we can all realize that we have our part to play in this," TODAY's Al Roker said in a discussion with his co-anchors. Before we can teach our own children, we need to understand anti-racism ourselves — and then lead by example.

On her Facebook page, author Luvvie Ajayi ("I'm Judging You") recommended a list entitled "75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice," curated by Corinne Shutack, with advice like: "45. Seek out a diverse group of friends for your kids" and "46. Seek out a diverse group of friends for you."

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Author and teen expert Lisa Damour ("Untangled," "Under Pressure") shared the words of Shaker Heights, Ohio, high school principal Eric Juli, along with a Google document that has been shared all over social media with a list of anti-racism resources for adults and children.

Author, blogger, and leadership consultant Karen Walrond (Chookooloonks) compiled a list of "works by amazing people and organizations of all races, creeds, faiths and nationalities" for her readers to follow and explore "to help you live a more inclusive life, spark some self-reflection on how you can be an ally (and how you might be a part of the problem) and finally, inspire you to make light."

Walrond's list includes work by Revolutionary Love Project activist Valarie Kaur and author Mira Jacob ("Good Talk").

And Liz Gumbinner and Kristen Chase of Cool Mom Picks also curated a list of things white parents can do as well as how to talk to their kids on their own Facebook page.

"We need to raise the next generation of compassionate, empathetic, enlightened kids," the pair wrote. "It's on us, parents. We can do this."

Talk to your children

In fighting racism, a critical component is talking to children about race, discrimination, and how to be anti-racist. Though parents' first reflex might be to aim for their children to be "colorblind," blogger and photographer Jennifer Borget of Cherish365 recently explained to her followers why that is not the most helpful goal.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has compiled a guide for educators about engaging youth in conversations about race that can also be useful for parents.

"From police-involved deaths of Black and Latinx men to everyday racism to Confederate flag controversy with sports figures and celebrities getting involved in the conversation, there is a lot to grapple with and discuss," the ADL writes in their introduction.

Another good resource is the Center for Racial Justice in Education's list of resources for talking to children about race, racism, and racialized violence. Common Sense Media also compiled a list of media resources to help spark discussions with children, including movies, books, TV shows, and video games.


Finally, sometimes the best ways to communicate to children, especially younger children, is through books. Here's a sample list of 31 books created by The Conscious Kid and American Indians in Children's Literature.


"These books showcase the many ways people of all ages and races have worked to disrupt racism and highlight how race intersects with other issues, such as capitalism, class, and colonization," writes the authors.

"The majority of books center on BIPOC [Black and Indigenous People of Color], whose lives and bodies have been on the front lines of racial justice work, yet whose stories often go untold. The essential work of white activists is also included — to underscore that anti-racist work is not the responsibility of BIPOC; and exemplify the ways white people have stood up against racial injustice."

The article "How Do You Teach Your Kids Anti-Racism? These Resources Will Help" originally appeared on TODAY.