Early Childhood Race Chats – Reactionary

Reactionary race chats may also be useful and even necessary with younger kids, depending on their life experiences. For example, your 3-year-old says that a dark-skinned child is “dirty.” Or another child points to your 5-year-old and says her hair is “fuzzy and weird.” In these instances, you want to acknowledge the differences that the child notices and then give helpful information. For example: “His skin isn’t dirty, it is darker than yours. Your skin is light and his is dark but you’re both clean!” Or, “Yes, your hair is fuzzy and her hair is smooth. They are different. But different is not weird.” Children need to know it is okay to talk about race and about racial and ethnic differences—their own and others. But they also need to know that making sweeping value judgments about those differences can be untrue and hurtful.