Raising Antiracist Children-Ibram Kendi’s Insights

Even the most well-intentioned people cannot help but internalize racist thoughts, ideas and patterns. That’s why it is essential for parents and educators to raise young ones with the intention of being “anti-racist.”

Scholar Ibram Kendi has much to offer on the subject. Here’s one nugget:

“My understanding, when parents desire for their kids to be not racist, they typically do not talk to their kids about race. They avoid conversations about race or even explaining the racial inequities and dynamics in their community as a result. Typically, those kids are taught to be racist by society. And so, by contrast, when you’re essentially raising a kid to be anti-racist, you’re deliberately encouraging them to talk about race and racism. You’re deliberately teaching them that all the racial groups are equals. You’re deliberately showing them, yes, there are different colors and there are different cultures, and we should value them all equally.”

How Can Parents Make Their Kids Understand How To Be Anti-Racist? NPR’s Noel King talks to children’s author Renee Watson and anti-racism scholar Ibram Kendi. (7 min listen)

Kendi just published a brilliant board book outlining some key steps to being anti-racist. Feast your eyes on Ashley Lukashevsky’s artwork!

Purchase a copy of Antiracist Baby here. Consider gifting a copy to your local school, community center or public library. 

For more information, check out  Kendi’s Ted Talk: “The difference between being ‘not racist’ and antiracist.” (51 min)

No. Stop. That’s Not Fair. An Activist Chant for Children

In our preschool, we have come to use a chant in response to something that is not fair. When we know an action is hurtful, wrong or oppressive, we say, “No. Stop. That’s not fair.”  An action accompanies each word to help children embody each declaration.

“No.” (Shake head side-to-side).

“Stop.”  (Palm  out with five fingers spread out).

“That’s not fair.” (Hands on hips).

Using this chant is one concrete way we address the 3rd and 4th goals of Anti-Bias Education

Anti-Bias Education Goals:

  1. Identity– Nurture children’s self-awareness, family pride and identity.
  2. Justice– Assist children to recognize what is fair and unfair.
  3. Diversity–Nourish children’s comfort and joy related to human diversity.
  4. Activism– Support children to stand up for themselves and others. 

To learn more read: Understanding Anti-Bias Education: Bringing the Four Core Goals to Every Facet of Your Curriculum

Thanks to HFP parents for sharing clips of your child practicing the chant at home. Thanks to Sara Ziniewicz Michelman for creating the video. 

How NOT To Raise Racist White Kids- Teachings From Jennifer Harvey

Whether we like it or not, we are steeped in racist socialization. So if we don’t actively teach our white children about racism, they will be racist by default. 
Here are three resources from Jennifer Harvey, author or Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children In A Racially Unjust America
 1) “When we don’t break white silence with ongoing and explicit teaching about race and racism, and active and persistent modeling of antiracism, we end up raising the Amy Coopers of the next generation. Antiracism never accidentally shows up.”  CNN article How to not raise a racist white kid 

2) It’s not enough for White parents to just say “we’re all equal.” Check out this 7 min interview about the challenges white parents and teachers experience about talking about race.NPR Interview with Jennifer Harvey ‘

3) “The truth is that the attitudes and impulses made manifest in (Amy Cooper’s) behavior are pervasive, and she wasn’t born with them; she learned them. ” “How do I make sure I’m not raising the next Amy Cooper?” Embrace Race Webinar

We Need to Talk About Racism with White Children

I am writing this as a White teacher working with predominately White families.

There is an uprising in our country. We hit a breaking point when four White police officers murdered Mr. George Floyd in the light of day while being filmed. We witnessed yet another heartbreaking death in a long series of killings of unarmed Black and Brown folks– within the same week that a White woman weaponized her whiteness to put another Black man’s life in danger. Black and Brown folks are exhausted, furious and grieving “a lifetime of rage, disempowerment and injustice.” (Roxanne Gay) Many White folks are glimpsing the depth of pain that our Black and Brown siblings have experienced their entire lives. Some of us are opening our eyes, hearts and minds to witness the grotesque racism that has been there all along. Sadness, anger, disbelief, powerlessness and grief stir within us. We may be glad to see the curtain pulled back. We may be relieved to see and hear the need for radical reform take center stage. As we move through our feelings, we can thoughtfully act in the service of justice.

Some White folks are asking what we can do to interrupt racism and to help end white supremacy. As a White parent and a teacher, I think about how we can engage the next generation to join this struggle. It is an ongoing, everyday process. There are no checklists. There are no clearly outlined steps –except to educate ourselves and to engage honestly with our children.

There are countless Black, Brown and Indigenous leaders, educators, filmmakers, artists and authors who we can learn from. There are White folks committed to learning our rightful place within this work.There are a multitude of resources available. We can learn about the histories, complexities and varied forms of racism. We can learn about our privileges and work to uncover our own biases.Then we can talk  with our children, sharing simplified information, while listening and lovingly responding to their questions. I am far from an expert and I am sure to be making mistakes along the way; but I love young people and I am committed to anti-bias education and to using my little bit of influence to help create change.

Here are a few things I have learned:

  • We live in a racist society that favors white peoples’ experience over people of color’s experiences. 
  • Young children notice racial differences and make meaning of what they observe.
  • Families and educators can give children a hand or leave them on their own to navigate one of the longest standing  pervasive, pernicious, oppressive systems.
  • Our silence will give children the message that nothing is wrong with the current reality that advantages White people and dismisses and oppresses Black, Brown and Indigenous people. 
  • Our silence is complicity.
  • There is no mistake we can make in our ongoing conversations with our children that is worse than our silence. (Katie Kissinger author of Anti-Bias Education in the Early Childhood Classroom: Hand in Hand, Step by Step).
  • We can support children’s racial identity beyond sharing one dimensional responses like “We’re all the same underneath our skin.” Instead we might offer, “We believe in equality and it’s important to figure out how to stand up for that when its not there.”  (Jennifer Harvey author of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America).
  • We need to “speak out and renounce a system that perpetuates dangerous stereotypes, discrimination, and racism that is harmful to all of us.” (Ralinda Speaks/article below).
  • As we help children see what is wrong/hurtful/oppressive, it is our responsibility to also help them see models of activism/folks rising up to push back against that hurt.
  • We can help empower children to use their great minds, hearts and bodies and to nourish their identities as change-makers.

Recommended Children’s Books to Discuss Police Brutality:

Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice

Recommended Reads Regarding the Current Situation:

Black Parents Know About “The Talk” – White Parents, It’s Your Turn- Ralinda Speaks

“Don’t Understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge”-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Day 51 of Quarantine: Glamping in the Living Room

Nichole Aldaheff, HFP Parent

Staying home with a young child has proven challenging during this time of quarantine but the warmer, dry weather has provided us with much more opportunity to stay busy. Not on Day 51. The sky was dark grey and solidly pouring with no end in sight. At this point, it was hard to think of anything new to do, especially inside for the next ten hours.

As I cooked breakfast, I watched T and her dad bring out a sleeping bag and pad and put them on the living room floor. Camping? I wondered if our summer plans would actually happen. I remembered when I bought my first tent as a teenager and set it up in my parents living room. I slept in it for days.


After a two minute ponder, we moved the furniture and the tent went up. I instructed that it would just be up for the day as it was taking up most of the living room. More mattresses and blankets came out and filled the tent. We colored, read books, played games, watched a movie, and ate popcorn within the walls. That night, T and I slept in it. The following day, she and her dad slept in it. We went back to our regular beds, but after a few days, we were back to sleeping in the tent.  It is day 7 and the tent is still in the living room.

When we look back on our quarantine experience, there will likely be many memories and feelings that pop up. Our week of “glamping” will surely be a highlight!