“What can I do to raise an anti-racist child?” is a thought that has been floating around recently. Although, frankly, it should have been a trending topic much earlier. America is hurting right now. The subject of systemic racism, injustice, and advocacy for the black community has rightfully taken the forefront. An approach that we can all take is to inform ourselves on the issues, educate ourselves on the history, and know what action we can take. For parents, this means raising our kids to be open-hearted, open-minded and culturally-competent human beings. So how do we do this? By becoming intentional about bringing diversity into their everyday experiences.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a thought-leader in this topic, nor am I an expert on racial issues. I am a Filipino woman who was raised in an all-white community. I am the wife of a Jamaican-American man. I am the mother of three half-black half-filipino boys and I am committed to consciously celebrating who they are. I share about our family journey to spread knowledge and love about multiracial/cultural families. Here are some previous posts: How to Raise a Bi-racial Child, and hair-care routine for our boys.
These following are some recommendations from my own research and personal experience, but there are many lists out there for you to check out! My three boys are under the age of 5, so a lot of these suggestions pertain to children approximately 8 and under.
DIVERSITY IN BOOKS
Doing a home-library audit is the first step you can take. Is their book collection including black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC)? There have been a lot of articles circulating with lists of books on race, diversity, inclusion, etc. that you can check out. Here are some:
-written by Meena Harris, founder of Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign and newly newly published children’s book, “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea”. It is an inspiring story about her mother, lawyer and policy expert Maya Harris and her aunt, US Senator Kamala Harris as two girls trying to affect change in their neighborhood. This isn’t sponsored, I just love Meena and her missions.
Just like Me– a subscription box that sends age-appropriate books featuring people of color
Stocking your library with some of these amazing reads is a great step, but it shouldn’t stop there….
Diversity In Events
The next time you decide to venture out with the family, look up what local events are being hosted. Find ones that are either hosted by or feature BIPOC. This can be performances, concerts, book readings, food tastings, art shows etc. Even if the event is not directly centered on diversity, race and culture, just by seeing diverse individuals/groups showcasing their talents is good exposure. Check your local newspapers, neighborhood postings. DOUBLE WIN: There are usually family-friendly events held at the library…that way you can check out some new diverse books as well!
Diversity in Visual Media
First of all, no shaming here around screen time- TV, movies, youtube etc. Many parents feel guilty about the increase of screen-time recently…but we’re all trying to survive quarantine am I right? There are so many educational resources available to stream that promote cultural awareness and racial diversity. Ask yourself, are they seeing narratives and characters that are different from their own?
Here are some suggestions:
Sesame Street- THE OG of celebrating and featuring diversity/differences. PSA: Sesame Street is hosting a town hall meeting on CNN tomorrow, Sat. June 6th at 10AM!!
Hair love -an Oscar-winning short about a father learning to do her daughter’s hair
Bino and Fino- (Youtube/amazon) Cartoon of Nigerian sibling duo going on adventures and teaching about African culture: food, language, geography and tradiitons
Super Sema (youtube)- an African super-heroine!
Dora the Explorer/Go Diego Go (Nick Jr/Noggin)- Learning adventures featuring latino main characters
Blaze and the Monster Machines (Nick Jr./Noggin)- (my boys’ current obsession) teaching STEAM and featuring a main character of color
Esme and Roy (HBO/HULU)- adventures with monsters, with main character of color
Diversity in Toys
Children learn through play, and what/how they play impacts how they perceive their world. Integrating diversity into their toy collection is an essential step in helping them create narratives that include characters of color and their experiences. Take it a step further and support black-owned businesses when shopping for toys. I’ve included some here:
Healthy Roots Doll– Zoe doll for educational hair play
Brains and Beauty Dolls- Exactly as the brand name suggests 🙂
I Never Forget a Face Memory Game– representing people from all over the world
Toys like me– backpack dolls and pillows that have diverse representation.
Little Likes kids– puzzle featuring a diverse community of people
Melissa & Doug– this brand is a big one in our house. Although they are not black-owned, They have many toys, coloring books, sticker sets etc. that feature diverse characters. We love that the products are also very high-quality and typically wooden. Here are specific ones we have*: Sticker pad, fire truck, school bus, airplane
*Therapeuticmiles is a participant of the Amazon Associates program and may receive a small commission from purchases made through these specific links, at no additional cost to you. Thanks in advance! All other links in this post are not commissionable.
SO that’s all I have right now…the lists are endless but it’s a starting point. Feel free to comment on any other brands or businesses that promote diversity. Remember that understanding and acceptance of racial differences is LEARNED. Constant exposure to diverse experiences, people and through play is the easiest and more natural way to go!