How To Talk To Your Kids About White Privilege

White privilege is a hot topic these days, especially with the latest events like George Floyd’s death. While the popular term may be relatively new, the concept has existed for centuries.

Talking to your kids about racism and white privilege is a necessity. At school, kids learn that segregation is a bad thing, but teachers might overlook the “right way” to enlighten kids about this topic. 

Since you can’t approach a kid the same way you do an adult, it’s extremely important to learn how to start this conversation with them. 

There are certain tactics that you as a parent should learn first to make the conversation with your kids more effective.

What Is White Privilege?

Before we get into detail on the topic, we need to understand what white privilege is.

Unlike what some people think, white privilege doesn’t mean that white people don’t suffer from poverty or police brutality.

It doesn’t mean that white people get all they want effortlessly. All it means is that their skin color is never the reason for their hardship.

One story at Teaching Tolerance says, “white privilege is not the assumption that everything a white person has accomplished is unearned; most white people who have reached a high level of success worked extremely hard to get there. Instead, white privilege should be viewed as a built-in advantage, separate from one’s level of income or effort.”

In her anti-racism efforts, activist Peggy McIntosh uses an analogy she calls the “invisible knapsack”, which can be used to more easily explain white privilege to children.

This knapsack, according to McIntosh, contains a variety of different advantages white people have over other people, including:

-The ability to shop without raising any suspicions

-Better media representation

-Few restrictions on how you can wear your hair at school or at work

-Good Healthcare

-Less police brutality

-Access to healthy foods

Better schooling, including a better attitude from teachers towards kids where they won’t make any biased assumptions about the kids, or their parents, from their skin color.

Access to green areas

Unpolluted water 

Tips On How To Educate Your Children About White Privilege

Educate Yourself

Before having a conversation about white privilege with your kids, you should do your own research first to give them the right information they need.

Searching for information can be sometimes overwhelming, and because this is a sensitive topic that we really want to get right, you should start your research and get your information from large organizations such as Cultures of Dignity.

Take Advantage Of The Media

Nowadays, most kids are using social media and the internet. The media is definitely a powerful and effective tool for this generation.

You can let them watch helpful YouTube videos and interact with the content, or you can read fun articles for them.

Enlighten Them With History

As your children get older, it’s important for them to know the long history behind the white privilege issue.

If we don’t educate our kids about racism in history and teaching them what is good and bad, the possibility for history repeating itself is much higher.

Showing Is Better Than Telling

Every parent knows that kids always watch them, and parents should take advantage of that by showing their kids how to deal with white privilege.

No matter what you say to your kids, they’re definitely going to notice your behavior towards others, and eventually imitate it. So, lead by example.

At What Age Can You Talk To Your Kids About White Privilege?

If you’re wondering how old your kids should be before you talk to them about this important topic. It’s surprisingly young.

“As early as 3 years old, kids are starting to categorize people by race, gender, and other categories. This is the time to act and explain things like melanin in the skin, and why people are different colors, depending on the country of origin (to protect them from the sun),” wrote Dr. Lea Lis, a board-certified adult and child psychiatrist, via email.

According to Lis, while we explain concepts such as racism and white privilege to our kids, we can stress on, as well as celebrate, what we have in common, which is our shared humanity.

“Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the DNA in all humans is the same. We are all the same on the inside, and therefore all equal,” she said.

You have a role to let your children know how to stand up for what’s right. You should build tolerance inside of them so they’ll grow and make this world a better place, a place without the many social barriers of racism.