Why I Must Talk to My Kids About Race (and Some Tools to Help)

It seems like I have had a lot of moments lately in which I say to myself or others: “It is a really hard time to be a parent.“ I utter those words sometimes in the midst of potty training a toddler in my 40’s, but usually in response to some crazy thing I’ve seen on the news or in a story I have read that takes me down an introspective path I wish I didn’t have to travel. From the effect of electronics on developing minds to the impact of social media on adolescents to recently the COVID crisis and the resulting termination of everything my children know as “normal” in their lives, there always seems to be something. 

The news of this week resulted in a whole new level of angst, as I have watched a country devastated by disease and depression-era unemployment devolve into sheer chaos following the murder of an African-American man at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

I don’t know that I have the words anymore for my kids. I pray that the words will come to me, but lately I am not at all sure that they will. All that I seem to be able to say is that the world is hurting and we are to be part of the solution. Sometimes I don’t even know exactly what that means, but I return to the basic pillars of empathy, inclusion, understanding, and compassion and the sheer hope that strengthening those basic traits and tendencies within them will be enough.

The truth is, I don’t know if it will be. I do believe, however, that if the majority of parents of this young generation unite with the same message, there IS hope. 

In this country, race and ethnicity are sensitive subjects. Rightfully so, given our country’s history. But we are living in an era in which we must address the elephant in the room. Our kids are seeing it, reading it, absorbing it through the immediate messaging at their fingertips every day. My kids need to hear from me, as a white mother, that if we truly believe all lives matter, it’s important to say that black lives matter.


We are also living in an era in which social justice resources and the tools to combat racial injustice and promote empathetic understanding abound. We must educate our children about the whys in order to bring about the what ifs. What if we saw the amazing benefit that comes from different perspectives, backgrounds and realities? What if we understood that true inclusion and addressing injustice does not threaten but moves us all forward – together?  What if we saw our differences as the asset they can be in a democratic society?

We have compiled some resources below for all the parents out there who are struggling to tell a hopeful and fair narrative to their own kids. Like me, PGK does not pretend to have all the answers. But we are working hard every day as a team to be a resource for all the parents, educators and kids out there who want a more whole and just world.  In this moment, we hope you will check them out. See which ones speaks to you. And join us in being part of the solution. This country—and this world—needs us all.


These Books Can Help You Explain Racism and Protest to Your Kids (New York Times)
“In addition to keeping an open dialogue about racism, a way to raise children who are anti-racist is by making sure your home library has books with black people at the center of their stories. Christine Taylor-Butler, the prolific children’s author and writer of The Lost Tribes Series, said that she got into children’s literature because she wanted to see more stories of black joy. ‘I want stories about kids in a pumpkin patch, and kids in an art museum,’ she said. ‘Not only do we want our kids to read, but we want white kids to see — we’re not the people you’re afraid of.’”

Resources for Talking about Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids (Center for Racial Justice)
A great list that includes interviews and advice from experts, resource lists, articles, examples, and more.

There is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times (National Council of Teachers in English)
Most of us who have kids are doing some level of emergency home schooling right now. Whether you’re a full time teacher or a parent who’s winging it, you might find some of these educational resources gathered in the wake of Charlottesville helpful.

Talking About Race: Being Anti-Racist (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
An insightful article about how to more effectively combat racism. “We can be led to believe that racism is only about individual mindsets and actions, yet racist policies also contribute to our polarization. While individual choices are damaging, racist ideas in policy have a wide-spread impact by threatening the equity of our systems and the fairness of our institutions. To create an equal society, we must commit to making unbiased choices and being antiracist in all aspects of our lives.”

Anguish and Action (The Obama Foundation)
“Over 1,000 people are killed by police every year in America, and Black people are three times more likely to be killed than White people. We can take steps and make reforms to combat police violence and systemic racism within law enforcement.”