The Longest Shortest Time

Talking with Kids About Race and Racism

Eula Biss is a writer and professor who bravely and boldly tackles the topic of race in her writing, like her book of essays Notes from No Man’s Land and her New York Times Magazine article White Debt. We interviewed her recently in episode 135 on the importance of white parents talking to their kids about race and racism — and how to wrap our heads around our own discomfort with starting those conversations.

Here are some more resources Eula recommends. Check ’em out, and add your own in the comments!

Quick Reads to Get You Started
Courageous Conversations is an organization dedicated to achieving racial equality in education. They even have a book: Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools. These tools can help us, as parents, think about steps we can take in our children’s schools to promote racial equity.

NurtureShock is an evidence-based parenting book with a great chapter on race and why the “colorblind” approach does not work. Here’s an excerpt.

In our interview with Eula, she talks about “opportunity hoarding” — and how learning about that concept helped her to think about behaviors she could change as a parent, to create more racial equity at her son’s school. Here’s the Bloomberg News article where she first saw the term.

Jacqueline Battalora is the author of Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today. She’s also a parent at Eula’s son’s school, and she gave a version of this talk on whiteness for the community last year:

After the talk, the school sent out some follow-up readings. Here is one on white privilege.

Deeper Reads
For elementary and middle school kids, Eula likes novels by Christopher Paul Curtis — especially The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963.

For more on the history of racial inequality in schools, check out Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools

For more on the history of race and racism in America, read Between the World and Me, framed poignantly as letters from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates to his teenaged son.

For more on the purgatory of Black elitism and achievement, try Negroland, a memoir by Margo Jefferson.

For more challenging of post-racial America, read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

For more on the history of whiteness in America, and how we define it today, check out Noel Ignatiev’s How The Irish Became White.

We Have Talked About Race Here Before
Our episode with Eula is a follow-up to episode 116, in which we explore research about the “colorblind” approach with Dr. Brigitte Vittrup. In the post for that episode, you’ll find even more links for talking to your kids about race, including more books for children.

Your Turn
What resources have helped YOU talk to your kids about race, or have a better grasp of white privilege? Tell us!

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