How to talk to kids about race and racism amid George Floyd protests

SPOKANE, Wash. – As protests go on across the nation, it can be hard to explain to your kids what’s actually happening.

Regardless of who starts the conversation, experts say it’s important to open up.

“We realized that all we have learned and thought we understood about race didn’t mean we knew how to parent our children,” said Andrew Grant-Thomas, Co-founder of EmbraceRace.

That’s why Thomas and his wife decided to start EmbraceRace. The non-profit aims at teaching children about racial identity.

“There were very few resources for the community of us who felt that way,” said Thomas.

Thomas believes that’s where many of these issues stem from. A lack of communication and a lack of understanding.

He says that’s why starting the conversation with your kids as early as possible is key.

“We’ve been talking to our girls for a long time about race and identity, things that they see, questions they have,” Thomas said.

When it comes to young children, it’s all about how you frame the conversation. Thomas suggests asking questions such as, “Would it be fair if this happened?,” or, “How would you feel if you were in their shoes?”

For older kids, ask open ended questions. What are they seeing on social media? What are their friends saying about it?

“Right now is actually a time where they’re more likely to initiate because they’re hearing things and wonder, ‘Protests are happening in more than 140 cities. Why is that? What’s going on?’,” said Thomas.

As horrible as recent events have been, Thomas says this stems from a bigger issue.

“Let’s separate what the police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck did, from the sort of underlying conditions that allowed him to think he could do that and get away with it,” Thomas said.

It’s about shifting the perspective.

It all starts with having a conversation, no matter how hard that conversation might be.