Talking to Children About Race

At what age should you start talking to your children about race?

Birgitte Vittrup of the Children’s Research Lab at the University of Texas tried to answer that question in her 2006 study. A recent article in Newsweek focused on the results of her study — See Baby Discriminate. Kids as young as 6 months judge other based on skin color. What’s a parent to do? [btw, I hated the title of the article–it begged for a small readership].

While the study was extensive, and I didn’t agree with much of it, it showed that the majority of [white] families simply could not bring themselves to discuss race with their 5-7 year olds. “We don’t want to have these conversations with our child. We don’t want to point out skin color.” 

According to Vittrup, hardly any of these white parents had ever talked to their children directly about race. They might have asserted vague principles—like “Everybody’s equal” or “God made all of us” or “Under the skin, we’re all the same”—but they’d almost never called attention to racial differences. They wanted their children to grow up “colorblind”.

The article also mentioned that in homes of people of color, race is discussed much more openly. I can attest to that in our home. I know from a very early age, we have been careful that our children don’t buy what the media sells (i.e. beauty = blond hair + blue eyes + white skin). It is very much apart of our lives on a daily basis. I personally think efforts are misguided if children are raised to be “colorblind”. Color is the very first thing people see and our society and history dictate the inability to be such.  

I’m curious to hear what other families have to say, how do you talk to your children about race? at what age do you begin?

Perfectionist or Procrastinator?

Okay, I admit it. I have failed. I was SO excited about starting this blog and was confident about what it was supposed to be. Since then, I have allowed the fear of judgment, expectation and failure to creep in. Thus, I have done nothing with it!

Let me just start and put it all on the table. I’m a perfectionist. If it’s not perfect, I don’t want to do it. I know, I’m working on it. I’m laying it down. I don’t want to worry about this blog being perfect. My grammar might not be correct; there might even be typo’s (eek)! I don’t want to get bogged down with details. I DO want this blog to be a safe place to encourage and edify each other. I want people to feel free to talk about their experiences, both good and bad. I want us to share our feelings today that may shift and mold into a new perspective tomorrow. Here’s some insight on me…my immediate family is still dysfunctional when it comes to dealing with race and racism. I want this to be a safe place for us to “meet at the table”.  I want this to be a place of reflection for whatever side of the table you sit on. 

Let’s pull up a chair…

Beginning

I’m so excited about starting this blog! It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a while but I wasn’t sure exactly what approach I wanted to take with it. Well, this weekend I sat on a panel at a transracial adoption workshop and know exactly what I want to do!  I want to create a place where we can share our experiences of having a multiracial family, ask questions, post frustrations, share resources and encourage each other. This is my first blog, so I’m going to have to learn how to navigate the blogosphere, but I’m looking forward to the journey! Will you join me?