I believe that race isn't easily understood. It shouldn't be a taboo discussion, and talking is a good way to prevent future issues.
1. Black History Is an Essential Part of Their Education
This kind of goes without saying. It's important for children to know why things are the way they are. Even if you don't tell them, they're going to have questions. A lot of us have grown up incredibly clueless—sure we know who Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Rosa Parks are, but for most people, that's about it.
We can't realize that there are gaps in our story if we've never fully been told it. A lot of the time it isn't always taught at school, so your child could grow up ignorant of all that there is to know. They need to learn what they have to fight for and against, so teach your children about Claudette Colvin and Emmett Till. Tell them about Ella Baker and Amelia Boyton Robinson. Don't let them grow up clueless—they'll thank you for the knowledge.
2. Blackness Is Power
Of course, your child probably knows that racism exists. It's an incredibly sad reality for an adult, so imagine how that is for a child. Maybe they'll hear something negative one too many times and start to believe it. They're going to think that their blackness is their weakness, so teach them that it is, in fact, one of their most powerful strengths. Black people have gone through so much and have come out strong and still fighting.
They need to know that this courage is hereditary. They need to know that, no matter what people say or do, the past can never be erased.
3 Not All Police Are Bad, but to Be Safe, We Must Be Smart.
Your child knows that people are racist. There are racist teachers, racist lawyers, racist chefs, and racist cleaners. Before those people got their job they were just racist people—now they're racist people with a job.
It's the same with police—some were racist people who became part of the police and now they're racist policemen and policewomen. Teach your children that not all police are bad by default, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
There's one obvious rule: do everything the police ask you to do. This is one instance where they can't fight—they have to be as peaceful as possible. However, remind them that they can definitely call the police if they need to and if they are ever victims of a crime. Remind them that the police are here to protect, even though it doesn't feel like they're doing that sometimes.
4. Mental Health Isn't a "White thing"
A lot of the time, mental health is ignored or treated as taboo. This is incredibly wrong; mental health is just as real as physical health. Any parent should tell and prove to their child that they can come to their mother or father for help with any type of problem—and that mental illness isn't an exception.
If someone had a broken leg, you wouldn't just tell them to ignore it and keep walking, so why do this with mental health? An illness is an illness either way. Mental health isn't a weakness, and your children need to understand that. If you feel like your child has to see a doctor or therapist, take them or let them go! They just want to get better, and you are there to support them.
5. They Should Love Their Melanin And Culture
Self-love is so incredibly important, especially when you're black. Much of the world may not be able to see anything in you, and how can you show them otherwise when you can't even see it yourself?
Show them all there is to love and show them that they're more than just their race. They are sweet, caring, kind, funny, bright, etc. kids! At the same time, you need to teach them to love their race and skin color. You can do this by telling them why being black is such a blessing and teaching them about what black people have accomplished in history. Give them black role models, watch shows and cartoons with black characters. Buy them black dolls! They'll be so incredibly happy and grow up emotionally healthy.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.