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How I’ve Spoken to My 4-Year-Old About Race

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This post is part of a series in which we asked writers to tell us how they talk to their children about racism.

“Why are people mean to Black people?” my 4-year-old asked as we watched Sesame Street’s town hall, Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism on CNN.

I explained to him that some people treat others differently based on skin color. I continued on explaining that it’s not right to do so, because everyone deserves to be treated equally and with kindness, no matter what they look like. I reminded him that he is multicultural, and that we have family members of different races and skin colors whom we all love the same.

My husband and I were well aware of the systemic racism that existed before the current protests. However, I do not think we were aware that we should have already been speaking to our son about race. We had discussed with him to always treat others with kindness, regardless of differences.

Black Lives Matter & Children

Following George Floyd’s murder and the protests that followed, we chose to get more specific and discuss the importance of being kind and treating everyone the same, no matter their skin color. We have purchased books that portray diversity, and have watched shows like the Sesame Street special. At my son’s request, we have read aloud Disney’s Black Lives Matter commercial numerous times while watching TV.

One day recently, we overheard him singing the Black Lives Matter chant. It cemented what I already knew: He is always listening and paying attention to what we say in our home, what we tell him, and what he hears. All of our kids are. That’s why it is important to be good role models, as well as to speak to them from a young age about race.

Find out how you can speak to your child about racism.

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