Middle Childhood Race Chats – Reactionary

In the elementary school years, reactionary race chats may be prompted by personal experiences or by current events. Many different forms of media carry news and offer real-life examples that help facilitate discussions about race and ethnicity. For example, you can discuss the controversies surrounding the deaths of Black men and boys caused by police officers. Like the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a Black boy who was alone with a toy gun and in a Cleveland park in 2014. The police believed the young boy had a real firearm and shot him upon arrival to the scene. The police officer was not charged for wrongful death, but the city of Cleveland settled with the family in a court case in 2016. This and other cases can be scary and confusing for children. It is important to provide opportunities for these valuable discussions. When the word “racism” or “stereotypes” surfaces in the news accounts or conversations, you can ask your child: “What is racism?” or “What are stereotypes?” Then use their responses to launch into further conversation. Ask if they have ever seen or experienced racism in their own life. Or, what racism might look like at their school. Discuss the history of race relations and racism and why it matters. Using current events to prompt such questions can help children understand abstract topics. It provides a concrete way to discuss topics such as implicit racism and systemic racism. It also shows children that talking about race is okay—even when it is hard or emotional or confusing.