The Schools Committee developed three specific workshops to help parents and teachers talk to children about race and to become more conversant about race at home and in the classroom.
In the first workshop–Inter-racial Families: Racial Identity in our Society–we had a panel of parents who shared their experiences. Table conversations included how racial identity is important, the special issues faced by adoption, that identity focus can change over time, that it is important for white people to understand race and racism, that the goal of adults should be listen to children’s needs. Special thanks to our panelists for sharing their stories and offering guidance: Patricia Canning, Jocelyn Ryan, David Harris, & Peter Cardiello. Thanks also to Dr. Diane Hughes for moderating.
The second workshop was led by Dr. Hughes. She focused on the concept of ‘intentional parenting:’ all parents should be intentional in how they raise the issue of race and racial identity, in how they respond to their children’s racial observations and questions, and in how they model social interactions that are racially inclusive. Dr. Hughes noted how important it is think about our own concerns and biases about race so that we don’t pass on our discomfort to our kids and so that we can help our kids to making meaning of the many racialized situations they will experience.
The last workshop was for parents of preschoolers and young children. Here Dr. Hughes answered many questions about when children begin to notice race, and how to respond to their observations and comments about skin color. Among the 8 tables full of parents, common themes of concern included: responding in the moment when one is unprepared; becoming more knowledgeable about race and history; developing cross-racial friendships as adults and doing it in a way that is genuine and not an act of ‘tokenism;’ and much more. Parents shared strategies with one another and Dr. Hughes offered this advice: this is a life-long effort, parents should take advantage of teachable moments, work on their own biases, consider how and if racial and other identities are discussed as a family, and to keep working together in the community of parents on these issues.
Readings & Resources for the Inter-racial Families: Racial Identity in our Society Workshop 1:
Building Racial Identity: Strategies and Practical Suggestions
Dealing with Racism – Perspective Of A White Transracial Adoptive Parent
Multiracial in America
Raising Biracial Children to Be Well Adjusted
3 Black Adoptees on Racial Identity After Growing Up in White Homes
Readings & Resources for the Growing Our Understanding: The Language of Race and Identity Workshop 2:
Resources for Workshop 3: