Giving Compass' Take:

• An article at TedEd explains how white parents often contribute to systems of oppression by incorrectly talking about racism with their children.

• What role can funders play in providing resources to families and communities to inform better conversations around race? What racial challenges does your community face? 

• Learn about how white parents can support Black parents in talking about racism.

Although race and racism are at the top of Americans’ public discussions, it turns out that most white parents in the US don’t talk about those issues with their kids.

One study found that even though 81 percent of white mothers believed it was important to have these discussions, only 62 percent reported actually doing so. Of those who said they did, fewer than one-third of those people could actually recall a specific conversation.

Research shows that the relatively small number of white parents who do discuss race with their children often use what are called “colorblind” approaches that downplay racism’s significance in American society. These conversations usually involve emphasizing the sameness between all people and minimize or deny the idea of differences between races. Typical themes include “not seeing race” or “treating everyone the same,” which ignore or even reject the existence of white privilege and racism.

These discussions can promote a myth of meritocracy that claims anyone can succeed in the US regardless of their race, a belief shared by 57 percent of the white respondents in our survey. But the problem with this colorblindness is it ignores how racism is embedded in society — for example, in where people live and what kinds of jobs and educational opportunities people have.

Sometimes conversations can also be explicitly or implicitly racist, relying on racial stereotypes premised on the idea of inherent differences between racial groups. Seldom are such discussions anti-racist. An anti-racism conversation with children involves acknowledging racial inequalities and the historical and present-day reasons why they exist. It also includes talking about ways that a child could help actively undo racism and how not to be a bystander when they see it being perpetrated.

Read the full article about white parents talking about racism at TedEd.