The current social climate of racial awareness is a perfect opportunity to have discussions about diversity and encourage your kids to be a part of the movement to end racism. It is important that we use these opportunities to educate our children and not shy away from the topic because it is awkward or uncomfortable.
Talk with them about racism when you see and hear it.
Explain to your children about injustices that are happening and why they are wrong and what we can do as individuals to help stop it. You may not feel comfortable loading your kids up and heading out to a demonstration or protest, but there are other ways your children can make a change. There are some simple ways to cultivate awareness and tolerance within your family.
Even for the smallest children, some good ways to introduce diversity are to watch movies, television programs and read books that include races and cultures other than your/their own. As you do so, notice and discuss how the individual(s) differ from yourselves and celebrate that diversity. You can even try foods that are from different cultures. And when buying toys and dolls, include all languages, cultures, races and abilities so your child is used to seeing attributes that differ from their own.
If your school-aged children want to make their voice heard, encourage them to do so. Help them to make t-shirts and yard signs, write letters to elected officials, and/or hold fundraisers in their community, such as car washes, bake sales, lemonade stands, or even start an online campaign for nonprofit organizations of their choice.
If you have older children, teach them to speak up when they see or hear racism among their peers. If they see an injustice happening, advise them to not just ignore it but to take a stand. To ask the victim if they need help and pull out their cell phone and start recording the incident. Those who perpetuate hate are far less likely to continue their actions when they know they are under the scrutiny of a video recorder.
There are many things that you can do with children of all ages to lay a foundation of tolerance within them. But the most important thing is to talk to your children. Ask them if they understand what is going on and if they have any questions. Discuss how they are feeling and what they can do to make a difference in their life, in their community and in the world.