Teaching Racial Sensitivity in an ‘Ethnic Bubble’

Racial prejudice can crop up at an early age. Simply talking with your children about differences can help shape a healthy sense of acceptance.

When Melinda Moyer moved her family to a small town in the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn, she was concerned the lack of diversity might affect her children.

What will it mean in the long run if my white children don’t see and befriend people who come from different racial backgrounds? And are there steps I can take to instill racial sensitivity and acceptance in my kids despite the fact that they’re growing up in an ethnic bubble?”

Moyer poses these – and other questions -- in a recent guest column for Slate magazine that explores how white parents should talk to their children about race.

As a white mother, Moyer acknowledges the scope of her experience varies from parents of different, more ethnically diverse backgrounds. She seeks out experts, including developmental and social psychologist and race-relations researchers to speak on the topic.

Moyer’s column shares some fascinating statistics including the fact that children as young as preschool age can develop racial prejudices.

What it seems to boil down to: be open and vocal with your children about race. Talk to them. Don’t let it be the politically-correct topic you don’t really speak about.

Be upfront and specific, Moyer explains, among other suggestions.

“If little Henry makes a mortifying comment in the grocery store about someone’s skin color being ‘dirty,’ don’t shush him and change the subject or say something vague like don’t say things like that; it’s hurtful,” Moyer writes.  

Use the moment to explain what skin color is. An appropriate response might be, 'Honey, that little girl is not dirty. Her skin is as clean as yours. It’s just a different color. Just like we have different color hair, people have different skin colors.'"

To read Moyer's full column, click here.

How do you talk with your children about race? Is it a topic you consciously discuss with your family? Share with us how you teach tolerance – post your thoughts in the comments!


William Masters April 08, 2014 at 12:57 AM
Michael...your attempt to establish your "street cred" is both pathetic and predictable. You should really think about moving out of your parents' basement and put on your big boy pants.
Grumpy Old Man April 08, 2014 at 07:20 AM
William - Don't bother responding to him. He can't spell which indicates why America's children are so poorly educated - he claims to have been a teacher (grain of salt applied). He can't understand that most of us have no problems talking about race, its just we can't find anyone intelligent on the other (liberal) side to have any rational discussion.
Max Smart April 08, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Michael, you are welcome. And by the way, pointing out someone's spelling errors while making your own is priceless!
B. Dub April 08, 2014 at 02:34 PM
Take the racist quiz to find out if you are racist: Are you white? Did you wake up this morning? If you answererd yes to both of these questions, you are a racist.
Max Smart April 08, 2014 at 02:39 PM
You for got the most important question. Are you employed?


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