For parents

Dear parent or guardian,

Thank you for being here. Your child is probably attending, or has already attended the Together Without Racism training. The tasks and activities of the training may raise questions and reflections. Whether you child belonged to the majority population or to a marginalized group, it is important as a parent or guardian to discuss racism, as well as many other difficult societal issues. Especially the white parents are often afraid to discuss racism and therefore might not start the discussion at all. However, it is possible to learn more over time, so the best way to begin is to just start the conversation. The Together Without Racism workshops can be that beginning for the discussion. On this page, we will give you a few tips on how you can discuss racism and raise your child anti-racist.

Racism and Together Without Racism training

Racism is a system in which a person belonging to one group of people is considered inferior to a person belonging to another group of people, for example on the basis of skin color or culture. It involves a position of power from which some groups of people benefit at the expense of the suffering of others.

In the Together Without Racism training, we deal with racism, privileges, power, prejudices and ways to combat racism. These issues can bring different feelings. For example, when dealing with privileges, one may feel uncomfortable when one’s own identity is intertwined with the structures of the historically powerful. It is good to help the child express and find words to their feelings.

Even though we deal with complex issues, the training is just the beginning of a longer learning process. Racism is often difficult to identify, especially for a member of a privileged group, ie. in the Finnish context, for a white person native in the Finnish language: Racism is not just unequal treatment between people, such as naming, but it is often hidden in structures and practices. However, identifying and tackling racism is facilitated by the constant effort to learn about racism and to reflect on one’s own actions and prejudices. We are all part of this racist system, and that is why it is the duty of all of us to take action against racism.

What can you do?

You can tell your child that racism and injustices are not the child’s fault, but it is the adults’ job to create a fair world. However, you can think together what you both could do. It is good for children to be taught to be everyone’s friend and to take everyone to take part of plays and games. It is also important to set an example of yourself as an adult who condemns racism. It’s also worth introducing your child to diversity by reading books and watching series and movies together with diverse protagonists. You can make friends with people and families who look different than your family. On the other hand, it is also good to tell children that skin color affects how people are seen, and privileges are not usually a result of diligence, but part of a continuum of long, historical hierarchies.

If a child encounters racism, do not belittle the experience, but allow the child to be sad and comfort them. Take care that you do not yourself make assumptions and generalizations about individuals based on skin color. Consider your own prejudices and privileges. Don’t be color blind, because even though there is only one human race, non-white people are treated unequally. Talking about skin colors helps to express and give words to racism. Appreciate the child as their own, unique self.

References

All Our Children’s lists of tips “Supporting a child and young person who has experienced racism” and “How to discuss racism with white children?”
(In Finnish)

Weir, K. (2021) Raising anti-racist children. American Psychological Association.

Read more in English:

Tools for speaking about racism and discrimination – A Guide for Families and Professionals. (Familia ry)
https://www.familiary.fi/uploads/7/1/8/2/71825877/rasisminvastainen_opas_netti_engl.pdf

100 race conscious things you can say to your child to advance racial justice. (Raising Race Conscious Children blog)
https://raceconscious.org/2016/06/100-race-conscious-things-to-say-to-your-child-to-advance-racial-justice/

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The project Together without racism is supported by the national program of the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.