More than 100 members of the St. Patrick’s community were treated to an engaging presentation, entitled “How to Talk to Your Children About Race,” by two members of the Wells Collective last week. The presentation really started at the foundational level necessary to have these conversations with children. First, the facilitators encouraged us to think about our own identities and how and when we think about them. In small breakout rooms, a mixture of parents and faculty and staff were invited to connect around their identities and the intersection of those identities.
This complexity of identities and experiences is the gateway to discussion with children, as we are better able to allow children to see themselves and others based on more than one identity. The Wells Collective also shared the concept that, in the United States, there are certain identities that have greater and lesser proximity to power, thus establishing the need for us all to work intentionally to think about how we can acknowledge and affirm our roles in being in community with others. An exercise, “How Diverse Is Your Universe?” gave participants the opportunity to think about their own social and professional circles and what they might mean to their comfort and ability to have conversations about and across differences.
As the facilitators shared some statistics about how young babies see difference, show preference, and assign value to people, it became clear that we need to be having these conversations earlier than many might think. Children deserve language to help them navigate difference, and they need to know that difference doesn't mean deficit and that other experiences exist. Most importantly, they need adults in their lives to help with it all.