Talking about Race with Kids

This past summer, I hosted a series of chats about Race. It’s an issue that is important to me and this post is long overdue. That chat series wasn’t without controversy, but I am committed to using my platform for positive change.

With that, I had promised that we would compile a list of resources to use with your kids. My video chat series is more for adults. There are many Resources below.

To understand the roots of racism and the perspectives of Black men, women, and children who confront it, daily, throughout their lives, we must listen to what they have to say.

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anti racism resources

Videos About Race and Racism

John F. Kennedy Address on Civil Rights | Video
An excerpt from President John F. Kennedy’s June 11, 1963 radio and television address to the American people on civil rights.

Juneteenth: Freedom At Last | Video
Slavery persisted in the South even after the Emancipation Proclamation and the passage of the 13th Amendment. In the most remote corners of the Confederacy, news of slavery’s end did not come until more than two months after Robert E. Lee’s surrender in April 1865. The day that General Order No. 3 was delivered to the people of Galveston, Texas, is the day slavery finally ended everywhere. As Minnesota musician and actor T. Mychael Rambo explains, that day is a milestone moment still commemorated and celebrated. To learn more about Minnesota and the Civil War visit Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

YouTube video

Systemic Racism Explained: video
Systemic racism affects every area of life in the US. From incarceration rates to predatory loans, and trying to solve these problems requires changes in major parts of our system. Here’s a closer look at what systemic racism is, and how we can solve it.

Race and Racism: Resource Guides and Websites

Black History Milestones: Timeline
From the arrival of the first slaves to the present day, the History Channel walks us through the many milestones that have shaped African American communities and culture and the United States as a whole.

Racial Equity Resource Guide
In 2010, we launched America Healing, an effort to put the belief in a false human hierarchy based on physical characteristics and the racial and structural inequalities it creates behind us, by first putting it squarely in front of us. America Healing is a strategy for racial healing toward racial equity and is designed to raise awareness of unconscious biases and inequities to help communities heal. In support of America Healing, we have created this comprehensive and interactive racial equity resource guide that includes practical resources including articles, organizations, research, books, media strategies, and training curricula aimed at helping organizations and individuals working to achieve racial healing and equity in their communities.

National Museum of African American History and Culture
“A people’s journey, a nation’s story” | The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has launched Talking About Race, an online portal designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity, and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture. The online portal provides digital tools, online exercises, video instructions, scholarly articles, and more than 100 multimedia resources tailored for educators, parents, and caregivers—and individuals committed to racial equality.

Anguish and Action
While now is a time for grief and anger, it is also a time for resolve. Find resources to learn what you can do to create a more just and equitable world. Created by The Obama Foundation.

Black Lives Matter
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc. is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. On BLM’s website you can find chapters in the US, download toolkits (such as Healing Action toolkit; TalkAbout Trayvon: A Toolkit for White People; and TrayvonMeEnseñó in Spanish); and watch Activist Shorts (short videos featuring activists and leaders discussing their local work).

Teaching Tolerance
Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators and others who work with children from kindergarten through high school. Educators use the Teaching Tolerance materials to supplement the curriculum, to inform their practices, and to create civil and inclusive school communities where children are respected, valued and welcome participants. The program emphasizes social justice and anti-bias. Have a look in particular at the materials and suggestions under Teaching about Race, Racism, and Police Violence.

The Equity Assistance Center Network
There are four equity assistance centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They provide assistance in the areas of race, gender, national origin, and religion to public school districts to promote equal educational opportunities. The materials you’ll find on any of their websites are rich with insight into the heart of equity.

Glossary for Understanding the Dismantling of Structural Racism
There are quite a few words associated with racism, and this 2-page glossary of terms illuminates what the terms actually mean.

Creating Change through Action: Curriculum and Compilation of Social Justice Resources
This 55-page compilation is packed with easy-to-read discussions of the six platforms that influenced the work of Martin Luther King, Jr.: justice, peace, quality education, better jobs, better housing and stronger communities, and ending poverty. In each section, you will find educational information, links to websites, and action items suitable for elementary school-aged children, for middle schoolers, and for high schoolers. The final section addresses how to continue the movement.

Video Series | What Matters
What Matters combines documentary narrative with interviews to illuminate specific, timely issues, aiming to create safe dialogue to promote freedom, justice, and collective liberation. There are currently 4 episodes in the series. You can access the episodes on Vimeo, YouTube, and as podcasts.

15+ Tools and Resources to Challenge Racism
Here’s a resource to explore thoroughly. You’ll find links to and descriptions of multiple very relevant resources, including:

  • videos (such as the TED talk How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Talking About Race)
  • thought-provoking blogs and articles (such as Challenging White Dominant Culture: Time to Look in the Mirror and Illustrating Equality versus Equity)
  • racial equity toolkits and frameworks
  • books (such as Dismantling Racism: A Resource Book for Social Change Groups)

Race and Racism: Lesson Plans

Eight Lessons for Talking About Race, Racism, and Racial Justice
Conversations about race, racism, and racial justice in this country are more important than ever. The Opportunity Agenda has put together these “lessons” to help move such discussions forward. Each lesson includes a explanation of its purpose and suggested language organizers can use.

Race and Racism: Articles

Most of these are from Teaching Tolerance.

“No, I Am Not OK.” Thanks for Asking.

As protesters across the nation rise up against police violence and systemic racism in support of Black lives, there’s something white allies need to recognize. Dr. Neal A. Lester explains.

Why the Texas Police-Stop Video Is a Problem

A new Texas law requires that students learn how to act appropriately when interacting with police officers, but it misses the mark by ignoring a history of policing that has not reserved the same respect for its citizens. This article illustrates how such initiatives ignore racism’s influence in police interactions.

Police Violence: New Jersey Bill Puts Onus and Blame On Children

This bill calls for “mutual cooperation and respect” concerning interactions with police—and it misses the point.

Living With the Bear

Constant exposure to violence via social media is harming our students. Learn to recognize the signs to give them the support they need.

After the Flag Comes Down

There was growing momentum to take down Confederate flags after nine people were murdered at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, but our work to denounce systemic racism cannot stop at symbolic markers.

The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

This middle school teacher empowered his students to lift their voices in discussions about Ferguson and Eric Garner—by assigning them to tweet.

Talking With Students About Ferguson and Racism

This teacher believes it’s crucial for white teachers like her to seek out productive ways to talk about race and racism with students.

When Educators Understand Race and Racism

What is the fundamental outcome of educators growing their racial competence? Learning.


The tragic loss of Michael Brown presents an opportunity to help students connect with our collective humanity.

Feature Stories

Teaching in Solidarity-Learn about the annual Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action and how you can participate.

Why Teaching Black Lives Matter Matters (Part I)-All educators have the civic responsibility to learn and teach the basic history and tenets of this movement for racial justice.

Bringing Black Lives Matter Into the Classroom (Part II)-An educator introduces ways to discuss Black Lives Matter across all grade levels.

A District Profile: Black Lives Matter at School-Meet a school district that brought BLM into the classroom—and learn how you could do it too.

Don’t Say Nothing-Educators’ silence speaks volumes during moments of racial tension or violence. Our students are listening.

Why Talk About Whiteness?

This magazine feature story explores why we can’t talk about racism without understanding the social construction of whiteness.

Ferguson, U.S.A.-This feature story explains why hardships faced by communities in crisis are national issues worth teaching. Further, it delineates three approaches to teaching, thinking and talking about the events of 2014 that had the nation grappling with the effects of police violence.

Race and Racism: Personal Examples and Stories

Racism-It Stops With Me.
Racism. It Stops With Me is a national campaign that provides tools and resources to help people and organizations learn about racism and stand against it by acting for positive change.

BuzzFeed: 21 racial microaggressions you hear on a daily basis
A photographer at Fordham asked her peers to write down the microaggressions they’ve encountered. Here is what they had to say.

‘Am I racist?’ 7 ways to tell if you’re secretly biased — and how to fix it
Is it possible I’m a racist and don’t know it, a closeted bigot afraid to come out?

Video | Understanding my privilege 
Susan E. Borrego reflects on her life as an emancipated minor and dissects the emotionally charged conversation surrounding race relations in the United States. She uses her powerful first-person account of “White Privilege” and “Black Lives Matter” to underscore the responsibility each one of us has to bring about change. 12 minutes.

14 small ways you can fight racism every day
The author of this article is black. His white friends have been asking him what they can do to help conquer that savage beast that is racism once and for all. He states that if a change is ever going to come, we all need to be mindful of our everyday actions that hinder it. He explores 14 ways to begin.

How do we talk to our children about race and violence, what do we say? Their eyes and ears take in the news, just as ours do. Regardless of their age, children are bound to be frightened and mystified by what’s been going on. Add to that turmoil that they also see their parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and family friends full of upset and even outrage, no doubt discussing racial matters with unguarded candor.

So–what do we say to our young people? Is it possible to explain current injustices, let alone centuries-old turbulence and racism? Here are many resources that can help guide our words and actions, ever mindful that the future belongs to them but is being built now.

How to talk with kids about racism and racial violence
(Cómo hablar con los niños sobre el racismo y la violencia racial)
It starts with checking in on yourself, creating safe spaces, listening deeply to our children,  and other helpful actions identified in this article from Common Sense Media.

Racism and violence: How to help kids handle the news
(Racismo y violencia: Cómo ayudar a los niños a sobrellevar las noticias)
Support for difficult conversations. From the Child Mind Institute.

Video | A clinical perspective on talking to kids about racism
A 38-minute video of advice from the expert clinicians at the Child Mind Institute.

Let’s talk! | Discussing race, racism, and other difficult topics with students
Educators play a crucial role in helping students talk openly about the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of social inequality and discrimination. Learning how to communicate about such topics as white privilege, police violence, economic inequality, and mass incarceration requires practice, and facilitating difficult conversations demands courage and skill. Teachers can use the strategies in this resource as they prepare to facilitate difficult conversations about race and racism. 24 pages, from Teaching Tolerance.

How to talk to kids about difficult subjects
In a world where even little kids learn about horrific subjects, it’s important for parents to put things in perspective, field questions, and search for answers together.

How do I help my kid understand race?
We are witnessing some stark, disturbing images of the racial divide these days. As parents, we want to shield our kids from the brutality we see on the evening news, yet we know it is important that they understand what is happening and why. We need to talk to our kids about race and identity.

How White parents can talk to their kids about race
A 10-minute listen, from NPR.

Race and Racism: Books for Kids

10 children’s books about racism and activism to help parents educate their kids
Talking to our children about racial justice and police brutality isn’t easy. Do it anyway.

20 Picture Books for 2020: Readings to Embrace Race, Provide Solace & Do Good
Parents and other caregivers are seeking resources to help them hold children through the current, terrible wave of racialized violence, which is exacerbated by the tensions and vulnerabilities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As scholars, writers, and parents who use books to connect with our children and spark conversations with them, we’ve developed this book list to help engage the broad range of emotions and needs of diverse children in our multiracial society. In some cases, we’ve highlighted worthy, albeit lesser-known titles. Some are older books, some are newer, and a few will publish later this year but are available for pre-order now. This list skews heavily towards #ownvoices books and is arranged alphabetically by title. 

Talking about Race, Racism, and Race-Related Violence with Children
Great list! It’s full of helpful materials, interviews, and to-the-point guidance. Definitely using this one with my 11-year-old.

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