Building the Capacity for Color: Navigating Race/ism Conversations with Children

Pursuing Extraordinary Outcomes in Public Education National Conference

UNC Charlotte Center City

October 30, 2017

Presenters: Lucretia Carter Berry,, Tehia Starker Glass, UNC Charlotte

This presentation represents a university and community partnership of assisting parents to discuss race with their children.

/broun’ isədē/

  • Brown represents melanin. Ethnicity means “that which we have in common.”
  • We are all hues of brown.
  • We are family-focused and dedicated to advocacy, education, and support for racial healing and antiracism.

The Capacity for Color

Telling children, “ we don’t see color,” or “everyone is the same,” does not help them understand that race should not matter. In fact, it leaves them vulnerable to racial socialization. Researchers have found that to be effective, conversations with children about race have to be explicit and in terms that children understand. And when incorporated into family life and their school curriculum, informed and healthy conversations become normal.

  • 6m. Notice differences
  • 2.5 – 3y. Group based on differences (race, gender)
  • 3y. Black children choose White
  • 5y. Children see race as a major point of difference or distinction, even when it is not discussed
  • 7y. Children can accurately reflect social status bias and will make choices or judgments based on who they perceive as having more power or privilege
  • White children as young as 7y demonstrate that they believe Blacks experience less pain than Whites.
  • Even when kids are told that people are all the same, White kids continue to demonstrate stronger racial biases than children of other groups. (Schutts & Olsen, 2011)

We live in a hyper-racialized society where proficiency is needed. We need to normalize healthy and informed conversations about skin tone and race.

To Do:

Talk openly and explicitly. If you don’t teach them, someone else will! Talking empowers them. Not talking leads to complicit racism.

  • Narrow the white conversation gap
  • Have explicit conversation about race to improves racial attitudes across groups
  • Give context – teach about the country’s history of bias and discrimination
  • Diversify your life and library. Even slightly more exposure to other racial/ethnic groups, even through children’s books, helps to counteract bias and discrimination
    • rich diversity of our world.
    • feature positive representation and also cover themes of social justice.
    • authors are people of color
    • main protagonist is a person of color

Books & media to help foster informed & healthy conversation

For Parents, Care-givers & Teachers

Younger Children

High School & Adults

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