As the Black Lives Matter movement has gained steam, many white parents across the country have found themselves struggling to answer their children’s questions about race, racism, and police violence. This page was designed to serve as a starting point for white homeschooling parents who want to raise children who care about racial justice.
Is your child’s history curriculum the story of western civilization? Is every great artist and scientist whose work they study white? If so, you risk raising a child who thinks that other cultures and societies did not produce anything worth mentioning. Children learn white supremacy as much through what they are not taught as through what they are taught. As you shop for history and social studies, art, and science curriculum in the future, pay attention to what is covered and how other cultures and histories are presented.
It is not enough to supplement a western civilization course with books about other cultures that you find at the library—your children need history books that include ALL people, that refuse to whitewash wrongdoing, and that present the achievements, contributions, and values of people in all parts of the world in a way that widens children’s horizons.
Whether you buy books online, browse at bookstores, or are a regular at your local library, make it your mission to find books that represent protagonists with a variety of skin colors, cultures, and experiences. The good news is that you won’t have to look far to find them: the last decade has seen an explosion in books written by Black authors about Black characters.
Be mindful that not every book with Black characters should be about the Black freedom struggle. In addition to books about civil rights icons and other Black leaders, read your children books with Black characters looking for a lost pet, learning how to get along with classmates at ballet, or making friends with big fuzzy monsters that live under their beds.
In some white homeschooling circles, there is pressure on parents to have their children read older chapter books that are considered “classics.” In some cases, parents may see having their children read these “classics” as a sign of academic excellence; books that are newer are sometimes treated as suspect. However, many of these “classics” ignore people of color at best or contain overtly racist tropes at worst. Without someone reading these texts with your children and explaining what parts are a product of racist cultural mores in our nation’s history, they may end up imbibing more racist ideas than you realize.
Fortunately, there is a growing body of chapter books that challenge middle and older readers and introduce them to concepts that will widen their understanding of the world—and of those around them. You can start with some of the books included in the lists above, but don’t stop there; locate chapter books for your middle and older children that encourage them to engage with contemporary issues.
Parents lead by example; this is especially true for homeschooling parents, who are frequently with their children nearly 24/7. Your choices and actions will have a far larger impact on your children than your words do. Raising an anti-racist child is about more than just the things you see; it is also about the things you do. Your children need to see you working to live every day as an example of the adult you want them to be.
This will require you to educate yourself. As you use the articles and collections below to get started, make sure you treat them as a starting point, not an end point.
This List Of Books, Films And Podcasts About Racism Is A Start, Not A Panacea: “To help people be better allies, lists of antiracist books, films and podcasts are being published in droves. … You’ll find research on how racism permeates everything from the criminal justice system to health care.”
White Allyship 101: Resources to Get to Work: “The Dismantle Collective desires to be a starting point for white allies to do the work and engage in analysis, education, and action on anti-racism. The following documents may be used as tools to educate yourself, your peers, employees, committees, etc.”
31 Resources That Will Help You Become a Better White Ally: “Being an effective white ally to Black people is a continuous process, consisting of both education and action. No matter where we are in the ongoing journey of recognizing our privilege and unlearning harmful behaviors and attitudes, there is always more we can do to fight white supremacy and racial injustice.”
While how to talk to your kids about race may be your most pressing question right now, we’re discussing it last. This is because if your curriculum is white, if your read-aloud books are white, if you require your children to read white “classics” as a marker of how well-read they are, if your choices are white and your community is white, one conversation isn’t going to have that much of an impact on your children’s ideas about race. Yes, you need to talk to your children about race, but that is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.
Rather than create our own guide, we are going to refer you to a range of experts on the subject. The articles, resources, and podcasts below provide an excellent starting point for these conversations, and should help prepare white parents to talk about race.
How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism: “There’s no question: talking about race can be sensitive, and yes, even a bit messy. And ‘choosing’ whether or not to talk to your kids about race is an option many parents, specifically those of color, don’t have; some children may inevitably learn about it by confronting racism in their everyday lives.”
Resources for Talking about Race, Racism, and Racialized Violence with Kids: “This document was compiled by the Center for Racial Justice in Education. It is not meant to be exhaustive and will be continually updated as we are made aware of more resources.”
Talking to White Kids about Race & Racism: “Many white parents have never learned how to talk about race and racism with their kids. Silence perpetuates racism—but it can be hard to know how to start. This hour-long program is about talking to white kids about race and racism: how white parents, families, and teachers can learn to show up for racial justice in a way that will make a difference for generations to come.”
How to Talk to White Kids about Race & Racism: “This podcast will focus on how white kids are being educated about race and racism in America. … Dr. Margaret Hagerman talks about her research and her new book: White kids: Growing Up With Privilege in a Racially Divided America. It’s an important topic that many people avoid out of discomfort or confusion with regard to how to discuss it. We get right into it on How to Talk to Kids about Anything.
Parenting Decentering Whiteness, on the The Parenting Forward Podcast: “This series features interviews with parenting influencers of color, people challenging authoritarian parenting paradigms while contending with whiteness. Joining [Cindy Wang Brant] to co-host this special series is Leslie Arreola Hillenbrand, co-founder of Latinx Parenting.”
Finally, diversify the parenting and homeschooling experts you follow. There are a wide range of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous parenting experts—and homeschooling experts—to listen to and learn from. If the experts you follow are predominantly white, you are missing a whole range of perspectives. As you seek out Black, Latinx, and Indigenous parenting and homeschooling experts, the list included in this article should offer a good starting point: