If you're raising a child of colour in a predominantly white context, it's important to be aware of the racism your child may face, to ensure that they aren't left to deal with it on their own.
Positive racial identity. Mixed and Black identity. Racism. Children. Preparation for bias. Awareness. Parenting.
Racism has a profound impact on children from a young age, regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not. If you're raising a child of colour in a predominantly white environment, it's important to be aware of the racism your child may face, to ensure that they aren't left to deal with it on their own.
Assuming that your child isn't impacted by race or racism just because they don't only discuss it is risky, as it puts your child at risk of experiencing discrimination and harm without your support or guidance.
Even if you don’t share the same skin colour as your child, it is possible to effectively show up for them in this area. Here are five concrete steps that you can take as a parent to ensure that you are there for your Black or Mixed child from the very beginning.
1 - Research how children experience racism in your context.
Your child's racial identities and your specific context will influence the types of racism they are most likely to encounter. By researching this, you can learn how to recognise and address these forms of discrimination as their caregiver.
2 - Listen to the experiences of others who look like your child.
This can help you understand how your child may experience racism based on their appearance, and you can adapt your approach to prepare them for bias accordingly.
3 - Listen to your child's experiences and watch out for signs of unfair treatment.
Regular conversations with your child about race, and what they are noticing and experiencing in relation to it, can help you identify where your child needs your support the most. Listening out for signs of unfair treatment, in particular, gives you the opportunity to identify where your intervention may be needed.
4 - Ask how your child feels about their racial identities, including their hair, skin colour, and features.
Asking how your child feels about visual representations of their racial identities, can provide you with insight into any areas where your child needs reaffirmation or any harmful ideas they may have internalised that need correcting.
5 - Use what you've learned to support them!
Reaffirm your child, provide context, and prepare them for how to handle and address the most likely forms of discrimination they might face.
In short, don't leave your child alone in their experiences around race. Taking proactive steps to support and appropriately equip them has huge benefits for their self-esteem, resilience and mental health and it may not be as difficult to do as you think!
If you are looking for more structured support in fostering strong self-esteem, positive racial identity and belonging in your child of Mixed or Black heritage - click here to read more about my current programme.