Parenting

Raising your children to be anti-racist is an important part of parenting and can protect them as they grow, according to an author and race historian

Raising your children to be anti-racist is an important part of parenting and can protect them as they grow, according to an author and race historian

  • Ibram X. Kendi is the director and founder of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.
  • He is also the father of a 6 year old child.

When you teach your children to cross the street, you show them cars. You make sure they know the vehicles are dangerous and can hurt them, so it’s important to be vigilant. Parents should take the same approach with racism, said Ibram X. Kendidirector and founder of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.

“I didn’t realize when I wrote ‘How to Raise an Anti-Racist’ that the research would point to one conclusion: it’s protective for our children to raise them to be anti-racist and talk to them about race,” Kendi said. to Insider.

A antiracist is someone who identifies with and opposes racism. They aim to change the policies, behaviors and beliefs that perpetuate racist ideas. Kendi’s 2019 book on the subject became a bestseller. Now he releases”How to raise an anti-racist“, a guide for parents.

Parents must work to raise an anti-racist

The biggest trap parents fall into is not realizing that raising an anti-racist is something they should strive for, Kendi said.

“Being anti-racist is extremely important and something they need to actively do to protect their children,” he said.

Children are vulnerable to simplistic ideas, such as associating darkness with evil or light with good. Plus, many parents — including Kendi himself at one point — don’t want to expose their children to the ugliness of racism. But the antidote to racism is open, honest conversations starting at a young age, Kendi said.

“As adults, we know how difficult it was for us to begin this process of striving to be anti-racist,” he said. “What if we started these conversations earlier, became more fluid and comfortable?”

If your child notices a group of homeless brown people and asks why so many brown people are homeless, consider that conversation. Talk about unfair rules or policies that have resulted in inequitable access to wealth and left people of color disproportionately facing homelessness.

Also pay attention to your non-verbal cues

In addition to thinking about what you say, think about what you do. A parent’s non-verbal communications about race have a huge effect on their child’s racial perceptions.

“If you’re a white parent and everyone you bring into your home is white, you’re telling your child something about who you appreciate,” Kendi said.

Non-verbal messages often arrive without us consciously choosing them. This is why it is extremely important that parents continue to do their own anti-racism work even as they guide their children.

“The more we as individuals are anti-racist, the more we’re going to speak in anti-racist terms when we don’t even speak,” Kendi said.

Overcome fear and embark on educating an anti-racist

Kendi urges parents to teach their children that they are special, but that has nothing to do with their skin color. That’s what he teaches his own daughter, who has proclaimed her favorite color to be the rainbow.

“We make sure she doesn’t attach negative or positive characteristics to a group because of her skin color,” Kendi said. “When you think about your kids, you want them to appreciate the human rainbow.”

When Kendi became a parent in 2016, he had already spent his career talking to adults about being anti-racist. Yet he was afraid to talk to children. But once he started, he found that children were often more receptive than adults.

Although other parents may not have Kendi’s professional expertise, he encourages them to overcome this fear.

“As with anything else with parenthoodwe are imperfect,” he said. “The most important thing is to try, improve and support our children as we learn.”