How to Talk to Kids About Race

Gene Demby at the NPR blog Code Switch applauds parents in Hartford, Conn., for complaining about middle schoolers forced to re-enact slavery scenes. But it does raise the question, he says, of how to talk to kids about race.

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Parents in Hartford, Conn., should be applauded for complaining about a school system's American history lesson that forced middle schoolers to re-enact slavery scenes, writes Gene Denby at NPR's blog Code Switch. But it does raise the question, he says, of how parents should talk to children about race.

The parents are suing the school, which was probably well-intentioned despite its ham-handedness. (By the way, "well-intentioned" is the "bless your heart!" of race conversations.)

Okay, so most people aren't likely to be this dramatically clumsy, but these are tricky conversations for adults to have with kids, whether those adults are teachers or parents.

Which got us thinking about how parents talk to their kids about race. A colleague laughed as he recalled trying to respond to his young daughter's question: why do so many black people play basketball? (Seriously: try and answer this question for a 10-year-old when we haven't figured out how to explain it to adults.)

In The New York Times last year, KJ Dell'Antonia pointed to research that found that parents of color were three times as likely to talk to their kids about race, and that attempts to raise children in "colorblind" homes had the opposite result. 

Read Gene Demby's entire piece at NPR.

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