Should I Be Talking with My Kids About Race as a Non-Black Parent?

As a parent, you may be wondering, “What is my role in talking with my children about race and racism?” “How young should I start?” “What if the conversation goes badly?” or even “What if I find out that my child has negative views about race, and I’ll feel like I am to blame? Can I fix this?”

If you are considering these questions, you are not alone. You are also one step closer to opening the doors towards open communication about race with your child. Talking with your children about emotionally charged topics, such as the recent deaths of black people by cops, can feel extremely intimidating. This blog post will help you navigate these conversations, using the research as a foundation to guide these recommendations.


Q: My child is in pre-school. Will they even understand if I try to talk to them about race?

A: Yes, they will understand! Children show racial preferences before Kindergarten. In the classic, Clark doll experiment, both black and white children show they are able to distinguish among the social constructs of the black and white dolls.

  • The Clark doll test (Clark & Clark, 1940) was created by Clark and Clark, two married Psychologists, who conducted research during the Civil Rights Movement and for Brown vs. Board of Education (which led to de-segregate schools based off of race).

  • Their findings have suggested over the past 70 years that children as young as age five years old are able to discern race. In this experiment, children are given two identical dolls; a white doll with yellow hair and a black doll with brown hair. Based on a series of statements, children selected a doll that best reflected the statement. This study has shown that children make judgments and assumptions about race, as early as five years old. Therefore, conversations about race at any age is encouraged.



Q: As a parent, is there anything I can actually do if my child has negative views about others’ race?

A: Definitely; research shows that children’s view of race can be changed!

  • There are various ways to change our attitudes and perspectives. Promoting attitudes of racial equality with your children begins with you.

  • As adults, we all have our own implicit biases towards white and black people, which you can test out here ( While we have opinions that we tell ourselves and others about race, we also have implicit biases- that is, our attitudes and beliefs that occur at an unconscious level. This can be a great way to check in with yourself. If you find results that you don’t like or makes you feel uncomfortable, you can take your own steps to change your views and beliefs. Read below!



Q: What are some steps that I can take to promote racial equality for myself and my child?

A: There are so many small and big steps that you can take to get your children involved in promoting racial equality.

  • Open discussions about race and racism! Use different mediums, including books and tv shows to promote these discussions. It starts with you!

    • Encourage your child to be curious about our world and the role that race plays. When they ask questions about race (i.e., why is her skin darker than mine?), answer your child’s questions. Correct your own mistakes; if you notice that you have an implicit bias that shows up as a racial micro aggression (such as locking your door as you drive through a neighborhood with visually more black people), correct yourself and show your child that making mistakes is human. By hiding your mistakes, you risk modeling these behaviors that your child may repeat.

  • With the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, many parents are wondering if they should talk to their kids, and if the answer is yes, then they are wondering how they should talk to their children. Children absorb information like sponges; they see what is going on in the news and on their phones. If you don’t talk about it with them, they are likely to come up with their own interpretations. Process what is going on with them and be honest. If you are avoiding the conversation, then you likely feel uncomfortable about having the discussion, which makes perfect sense. However, avoidance will not solve the problem. You may not know have the perfect idea of what to say (perfect also does not exist), but being open and honest about the current political news is the best way to approach the current deaths and discrimination against black people.

    • For younger kids, stick to the facts and for kids who ask questions, spend time processing their emotions about what is going on. You can also let them know how you are processing the current events.

  • Watch a movie and debrief!

    • Research has shown that debriefing and discussing race and racism with children after a movie or tv show depicting racial differences actually positively change children’s attitudes.

      • Movie suggestions: The Princess and the Frog, Akeelah & the Bee, Moana, Zootopia



Reflecting on the protests and the #blacklivesmatter movement, parents are asking questions and they want to be more informed in talking about race and racism. Your children are critically important in the movement towards racial equality.