As a white parent, it can be hard to talk to our children about race and racism. It's uncomfortable, and we often struggle to find the "right" words. But we HAVE to talk to our kids. Without identifying and naming racism, without recognizing our own biases and white privilege, without learning, listening, and understanding, truly understanding the injustices that the Black community has faced and continues to face day in and day out, change can't (and won't) happen.
I taught in a public city school system for 16 years, and not a day went by that we didn't openly talk about race. We talked about it in the classroom, on the playground, and during staff meetings. Kids talked about it. Parents talked about it. Administrators talked about it. My colleagues talked about it. And as a white teacher in an urban school district, I learned very early on to recognize my biases (yes, we all have them) and check my white privilege. But it's not enough to just recognize it; we need to come to terms with our biases and use our white privilege to invoke change.
A few months ago, someone wrote a racial slur in a bathroom stall at my daughters' school. I was vocal with administration, staff, friends, and of course my daughters, in naming this as an act of hatred and racism. Schools and families must have these discussions, not just sweep these incidents under the rug or skirt around the fact that systemic racism exists. Collectively, we must take action against racism. Kids need to learn the deep, historical, painful, and hurtful meanings behind these words. And yes, these are hard conversations; but they are only hard because of our white privilege. Black parents don't get to decide whether or not to have these conversations.
As an educator, I have come across many, many wonderfully diverse children's books that are written and illustrated by Black authors and illustrators. So if you are having trouble finding the "right" words to use when talking with your children race and racism, perhaps this list of books, resources, authors, and illustrators will help. If anything, it's a good place to start.
Read, listen, empathize, seek to understand, repeat.
Links to Resources
Accounts to Follow
List of Black Authors and Illustrators
* This is not an extensive list by any means.
Aminah Robinson: Website
Aminah is one of our all-time favorite Black artists who also wrote and illustrated several children's picture books. If you would like to learn more about Aminah, you can download our free Book Art based on the book, "Aminah's World" by Carole Genshaft. You can also purchase the book from the Columbus Museum of Art.
Patricia McKissack: Website