How to talk to your kids about race and racism

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Given all of the recent news coverage and protests around the country, you may be struggling to talk to your children about race and racism in America. A University of Utah professor has some suggestions to help. 

Dr. Karen Tao is an Assistant Professor at the U and the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Director. She says even though your kids may not have asked questions out loud, they are definitely thinking about race and looking for guidance. “When you haven’t had this early socialization and talking about these issues, you don’t know how and you don’t have a template. That’s okay and it’s never too late to start, ” she said. 

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Dr. Tao said children as young as three are recognizing differences about their body; age appropriate conversations should start then and never really stop. She recommended saying, “Hey this is happening in our world right now and I’m wondering what you’ve noticed, what questions you have, and most importantly, how are you feeling.”

Those kinds of conversations led Dr. Tao and her 10-year-old son to the car caravan protest on Saturday supporting Black Lives Matter.

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She says parents never have to feel that they need to start these conversations alone, there is help and resources online. Dr. Tao hosted a PBS Utah series called, “Let’s Talk: How to Talk to Kids About Race,” where she interviews Utah families on how they teach their children about race. All seven 15-minute episodes are available for free right now. 

She also recommended Embrace Race and Teaching Tolerance, both websites with resources for parents and kids. 

Dr. Tao said, “Brown and black families have been having these conversations for a really long time. They have been talking to their kids about how to stay safe, how to stay alive. It is imperative that we all join in those conversations about how to keep brown and black kids alive; that requires not just them to have this dialogue at home but all of us to have the dialogue at home.”

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