November 8, 2021
The National Geographic article “Talking to Kids About Race” delves into the expert perspective about the importance of talking to children about racism and ways in which it can be beneficial for their upbringing in the long run. The piece counts as a fantastic piece of journalism because it hits close to home. Everyone of all age groups can grasp something from this topic and have a different perspective on racism. It leaves an impact on any family who may believe that nothing can change when it comes to teaching kids about racism but author Heather Greenwood Davis proves there are ways to overcome this challenge. It’s a valuable source to read because it thoroughly explains racism based on a series of events such as protests and police brutality – for example the protest of George Floyd and the physical altercation with Philando Castile. Beyond that, Davis makes it a point to involve a wide variety of opinions and suggestions that provide empirical perspectives and data-driven understandings to the subject in question, without necessarily sounding biased. Heather Greenwood Davis touched on a serious topic and discussed factual events to back up her thesis.
The topic on teaching your child about racism is a valuable piece of information because overall it touches on a topic that is extremely relevant today. I feel that this article will help families engage with their children and prepare them for such a cutthroat society. So many different opinions about race and inequality challenges the mind and could leave a child curious so I believe they should be prepared to know how to react to such topics like racism.
The experts’ suggestions about everything a parent could do to teach their kids about racism so they develop into inclusive, anti-racist individuals as they get older was very important. The importance of teaching their kids about racism is necessary because children will have a better understanding of why racism exists. They need to be knowledgeable about what racism is. The author explains that there is no “right” way to have a conversation with your child about racism but they assure them that although these topics are hard to discuss they are also important to discuss. The most practical way to have these conversations is to accept their point of view on what racism is and react with questions and statements. Parents should be understanding about why their children feel a certain way. It gives parents an idea on how to approach their children about such a difficult topic.
“What parents do need to listen for are any value judgments kids may be unknowingly placing on those differences, and then gently correct them,” as reported by the National Geographic. Maggie Beneke, assistant professor of education at the University of Washington says “Simple questions like ‘Why do you think that?’ or ‘What makes you say that?’ can help get the conversation started.” She added “You can then explain what stereotypes are, and then work with your child to think about examples that show how these stereotypes aren’t actually true.”
This article was written because the topic on racism and having that conversation with children is controversial. Some will think that children are not ready for the conversation, some think they are. “The way you teach your children about racism reflects how they feel about race in the future,” as reported by National Geographic. Let them learn from the parents and not just from outside sources. I think this is a conversation to begin with because race and division is huge in America today. I believe kids will constantly bombard their parents with questions about why the skin color and social class creates inequality. This conversation is needed, it’s necessary.
It’s necessary to teach children how to look at situations from different perspectives. Children are very curious about everything, but they are not quick to judge or make assumptions. As adults, most of us immediately make an assumption and stick with what we think is correct because of stereotypes, we can come off as biased. Allison Skinner, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington talks about how adults can come off as biased through nonverbal communication which can possibly influence kids to turn out the same way. Skinner says in the article ‘How Adults Communicate Bias to Children,’ “The results suggest that negative biases can be conveyed through gestures, body language, and facial expressions—and that children pick up on these nonverbal cues to form their own biases.”
Maggie Beneke says, “Often those judgments come from implicit racial bias, something we might internalize through everyday interactions and social messaging, resulting in beliefs that we might not even realize we have but can still cause unintentional racist behavior.” Overall, I do believe children are sponges; they emulate anything they hear and/or see unless the parents or teachers talk to them about what is right and what is wrong. For example, if they were to see protests and physical altercations, they may think it is okay to perform the same act in school or at home.
I think the reporter did an exceptional job at providing the right amount of information to support her argument. I would have included an interview with a parent where they share their experience about having a real conversation with a child about racism to make the article more relatable. For example, ‘The House of Wellness’ youtube channel created a video named ‘Talking to Kids about Racial Equality’ where parents have a deep conversation about racial inequality. I believe giving specific examples of having these conversations with your child about racism could possibly give the readers more motivation to take action. Another way I would have approached this story was by trying to have a few parents speak about their own experiences about talking to their children about racial situations.