I want to give a little background about myself, first. I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and was adopted when I was around 9 months. I grew up in an all Caucasian family, in a small Iowan town, just 56 miles northeast of Des Moines. Growing up, I integrated fully in the culture and traditions of my adoptive family and while I knew I was adopted from the very beginning (and completely appreciate my parent’s honest and open discussion with me), I didn’t know anything about the Korean culture.
I never felt different until I hit middle school. I remember we went on a field trip in 6th or 7th grade to a Renaissance Fair, and someone from another school, yelled “Go back to where you came from,” when our group passed theirs. I remember asking my friend if they heard what they had said and if they were talking to me. My friend reassured me they couldn’t be talking about me. But who else were they directing that towards?
That was just the first of “where are you from, what language do you speak, etc,” questions that I have received all the way through adulthood from well-meaning adults and children alike.
When I had kids, I questioned how my race would impact how I parent my kids.
Would I teach them about Korea, especially if that wasn’t part of my identity before?
How important is it to me?
And more importantly, why isn’t it; was the question that kept pushing itself into my thoughts.
So, safe to say, race has always been part of my parenting journey. Knowing my children would most likely inherit Asian traits, we’ve talked about race, we’ve talked about how mommy was born in South Korea, and look at mommy’s eye shape vs. daddy’s. See how different but just as beautiful? We’ve talked about how others may perceive our differences and what to do if someone asks us or says something unkind about them.
We are currently in the midst of a significant movement and no matter where you fall in your beliefs, I am sure you’ve been touched in some way or other, or at the very least heard some of those buzz words I mentioned before. While I’ve always been intentional about incorporating toys, books, etc into my kid’s world, this movement has given me a new, fresh take and a heightened sense of intentionality and awareness of the importance of starting these conversations at home.
One fact I was not aware of is that by 3 months, babies recognize race and prefer faces of their own race. 3 months! So, the saying, “it starts at home,” couldn’t ring more true.
Fortunately, a lot of the work has been done for us and the experts have been working years and years to bring resources and their work to us by simply doing a Google search and have it all within our fingertips.
Resources for Talking to Kids About Race
I rounded up some of my favorites here. Some of these are things we have and use and some are new to us.
Books are one of the most simple ways to introduce complex topics. It’s a starting off point though and an open window for you to then expand the discussion.
If you love books, Inclusive StoryTime is a great account to follow for more book ideas.
I also found this parenting Instagram account that posts frequently about how to raise antiracist kids and is an overall great resource.
This Instagram account is also becoming one of my favorites. While it doesn’t specifically address parenting, I believe it’s a valuable account to follow for your OWN growth.
The Conscious Kid is another incredible Instagram account for parents.
Toys are another great way to introduce inclusivity and celebrate the similarities and differences of all people.
These babies are adorable and perfect for those little toddlers.
This floor puzzle features different children from around the world.
The printable “Raising Little Allies To Be” is available at Wander and Wonder Studio (found on Instagram) and I LOVE it! It’s a little young for my almost 10-year-old but she still enjoyed doing it. MY 7-year-old loved it and my 18-month-old will be able to enjoy it in the coming years. Some of the pages, I put in a sleeve protector, and then we just use dry erase markers on them. The other ones, we just print out a few extra copies for each of the kids. She also has a ton of free resources on her Instagram page!
This is just a TINY example of all the resources that are available to us. There are so many more that aren’t even mentioned here!
What resources do you use for talking to your kids about race?
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