Talking to Kids About Racism, Early and Often & Why Britain’s First Black Animation, JoJo & Gran Gran Is So Important For Cultural Representation
Posted by: Sue Atkins
The whole world has been very moved by the death of George Floyd.
Recent protests are sparking questions from children & not shying away from those conversations is the first step in raising an anti-racist child & I think it is very important that we all address this really important subject and not put our heads in the sand.
Explaining race and racism to children can feel like a minefield, but it doesn’t have to be difficult and it is very important that you start early otherwise not talking about race and racism sends a message to children that this is a taboo topic, no matter what their age, and that isn’t going to help us change perceptions or policies.
Never Too Young
Children are never too young to learn to celebrate and embrace differences and by keeping an ongoing dialogue about race and racism throughout your child’s formative years helps them develop respect for and acceptance of others.
Read them picture books, watch TV shows and films like ‘Hidden Figures’ that celebrate people of all colours, cultures and religions, but include examples of these people & kids doing everyday things so that they won’t see difference as unusual.
Actively seek out diverse playgroups, child care & friendships and be ready, open and confident to answer your kids natural curiosity and their questions.
Be A Positive Role Model
Children learn their values, attitudes and behaviour from you initially as you are your child’s primary role model. So, to be a positive role model in how you handle diversity & ‘talk and teach’ your kids to respect and to embrace differences.
Have a wide, culturally diverse social network yourself & encourage your children to have diverse circles of friends, as well. This lends itself to engagement in multicultural activities and experiences as a normal part of life.
Strategies to Help Children Deal with Racial Bias
There are three strategies that you can use to help your children deal with racial bias:
Talk to your children and acknowledge that racial differences and bias exist.
Confront your own bias and model how you want your children to respond to others who may be different than them.
Encourage your children to challenge racial stereotypes and racial bias by being kind and compassionate when interacting with people of all racial, ethnic, and cultural groups.
There’s been a lot of talk about the lack of diversity in books for children and teens & the numbers don’t lie (one study found that of 3,200 of the 5,000 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about Black people).
But in choosing books for your children to read what’s important is for the story to include diverse characters where race isn’t the central issue in the storyline. Instead, the issues are solving mysteries, defeating bad guys, coping with loss, following your destiny, dealing with bullies, falling in love, facing physical or mental challenges and doing all sorts of wonderfully normal as well as amazing things, so your child can see reflected a multicultural world where it’s normal for young people of different cultures and national heritage to be in books.
Check out 21 Children’s Books
Help Your Kids Use Apps and Games with Diverse Characters
These apps and games help kids experience a variety of diverse characters and perspectives. Kids can choose from multicultural avatars, get to know families unlike their own, or explore different parts of the world through gameplay and learning apps. These games are available on a wide variety of platforms and devices, so there’s something for all kids of gamers.
Check out Apps and Games with Diverse Characters
6 Resources for Talking to Kids About Race
It’s never too early to talk to kids about race, but parents aren’t always sure what to say. These sources help parents start to talk to kids of all ages about tolerance, race and equality.
Tips for Talking About Racial Differences & Racism
Given the tragic and racially-charged current events, many parents around the world are wrestling with their own feelings, their anger, their frustration & their hopes that they have for their children, and the difficulty of helping those children thrive in a world full of racial bias.
This may help you face today’s challenges with an understanding of how racial bias works in children, as well as strategies to help them deal with and react to racial differences.
Why JoJo & Gran Gran is Important
CBeebies aired the first episode of Jo Jo & Gran Gran recently a new animation based on a book series of the same name that’s about a little girl and her grandma, who babysits Jo Jo while her parents are at work written by my friend Laura Henry-Allain.
It’s Britain’s First Black Animation and it will, in my opinion, become a well loved and adored classic for all children.
The Time to Talk is Now.
These are challenging times with families having to deal with coronavirus, lock down, school closures and protests.
Children have access to not just TV, but also social media and the internet & that means children have access to not just news coverage, but also how people share what is happening.
Don’t let social media, YouTube, fake news or biased coverage shape the conversation.
The time to ‘talk & teach’ your children about racism, historical bias and injustice is now.