July 24, 2008 by multiracialsky
The key to talking with your child—or anyone—about race is the same key to discussing any complex subject: openness. Start an open dialog with your child about race early in their life. Make it a comfortable subject of conversation—for you, and for your child.
WORDS: Find descriptive words you are comfortable using. Check out the MultiracialSky Glossary for expanded definitions of 60 race-related terms, including 30 heritage-affirming words used today to describe people with a variety of racial and ethnic heritages.
COLORS: Start with words describing color such as brown or tan, or the colors of foods. The Colors of Us [below] has wonderful descriptive color words.
IDENTIFIERS: Teach your children words they can use to identify themselves, and terms people with other heritages use to identify themselves. (Examples: multiracial, Amerasian, Latina.)
RACE AND ETHNICITY: Talk with your child about names for different racial and ethnic heritages. The descriptions and words you use may evolve and change over time, or as the socially predominant terms evolve. (Examples: African American, Black American, Native American, European American, Asian American, Mexican, White, Black, Cuban, Irish)
HUMAN RACE: When talking about race in scientific terms, the fact remains that there is only one human race. This is a fact and statement we should equip our children with. However, especially as parents, we must also recognize that the societal construct of different and distinct races affects everyone.
BOOKS FOR CHILDREN
The Colors of Us
Written and Illustrated by Karen Katz
The perfect book to begin the conversation with your child about skin color. Uses positive language to discuss the limitless variety of tones of the color brown.
Written by bell hooks, Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Poetic words accompanied by beautiful paintings. This book conveys a strong message that you cannot know who someone is simply by looking at them.
All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color
Written by Katie Kissinger, Photographs by Wernher Krutein
Simply explained scientific history of where and how humans get their skin color. In English and Spanish. NOTE: Multiracial families are presented as atypical following these two sentences: “Usually people with light skin have children with light skin. People with dark skin usually have children with dark skin.”
All the Colors of the Earth
Written and Illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka
Flowing text paired with paintings of children of all skin tones. Multiracial children and interracial couples shown.
Shades of Black
Written by Sandra L. Pinkney, Photographs by Myles Pinkney
Photographs and positive language show the variety of skin color, eye color, and hair texture present in children with Black American heritage.
Written and Illustrated by Mary Hoffman
Clearly narrated story of an imaginative girl who overcomes classmates’ limitations of her because of her skin color and gender.
BOOK RESOURCES FOR ADULTS–For thinking and talking about race and racism
A People’s History of the United States
By Howard Zinn
The portion of American History missing from traditional textbooks. The U.S. history of women, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants of all nationalities, the working class and the poor.
Everyday Acts Against Racism
Edited by Maureen Reddy
A collection of essays by parents (mostly mothers) raising children of color. Some of the authors are multiracial.
Some of My Best Friends
Edited by Emily Bernard
Deep, well-crafted essays about interracial friendships by 16 writers.
White Like Me
By Time Wise
White privilege and race in the United States–past and present–artfully explained and deconstructed by a White man from the South. This book is both life-changing and humorous.