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Raising Race Conscious Children

The effects of racial inequality pose a real threat to the health of Black American children. The chronic stress endured because of racism has proven to affect the hormone markers for inflammation, leading to a higher risk of chronic illness (1). One way we can change the course of this issue and protect the health of Black American youth is by raising nonblack children to be race-conscious.

Discussing sensitive social topics like racial inequality with children can be intimidating. It may feel most appropriate to embrace the “we don’t see color” approach to parenting. However, because racial disparities are an unfortunate reality Black people face, it is something that has to be acknowledged by nonblack caregivers in order for them to foster acceptance in their children. Here are a few things you can do in your effort to raise race-conscious children.

Let them see color and talk about it:

One way we can raise race-conscious children is by teaching them to celebrate how they differ from others. It is normal for non-black children to notice their differences from Black people. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, children begin to notice different phenotypes during infancy (2). As they get older, they will often stare at Black people curiously, want to touch their hair, and ask questions about their skin color. Avoiding the conversations that these observations bring up may enable the subconscious absorption of the racial biases ingrained in our society. It’s beneficial and normalizing to discuss their observations and allow these conversations to lead to education about Black history and its importance in social situations today.

Show them diversity through media:

If children are exposed to people and characters that look different than them on a usual basis, the phenotypic differences they observe will be normalized. Research also shows that 6 in 10 parents report that their children consuming media with diverse representation prompts productive conversations about race and diversity (3). Some examples of great TV shows that include Black characters are:

  • Esme and Roy (2+ years)

  • Doc McStuffins (3+ years)

  • Craig of the Creek (6+ years)

  • The Proud Family (8+ years)

These children’s books also have excellent black representation:

  • Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe (2 - 7 years)

  • I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes (3 - 8 years)

  • The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark (4 - 8 years)

  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (5 - 8 years)

  • Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (4 - 9 years)

“Racism is a socially transmitted disease passed down through generations, leading to the inequities observed in our population today.” - American Academy of Pediatrics

Model inclusive behavior:

It is a caregiver’s responsibility to set an example for their children. If a caregiver does not engage with Black people, their children may end up following that example. Additionally, calling out racism, especially when children are present, will teach them that making assumptions about Black people is wrong. If racist or biased statements are not addressed in front of them, they could view those biases as normal, leading to discriminatory ideals.

Racism is not only a social issue, but also a prevalent health issue for Black children. It is imperative that we take steps toward stopping this phenomenon, and a great place to start is raising children to be conscious of race.


  1. Claire McCarthy, M. D. (2020, January 8). How racism harms children. Harvard Health. Retrieved June 18, 2022, from

  2. Trent, M., Dooley, D. G., Dougé, J., Cavanaugh, R. M., Lacroix, A. E., Fanburg, J., Rahmandar, M. H., Hornberger, L. L., Schneider, M. B., Yen, S., Chilton, L. A., Green, A. E., Dilley, K. J., Gutierrez, J. R., Duffee, J. H., Keane, V. A., Krugman, S. D., McKelvey, C. D., Linton, J. M., … Wallace, S. B. (2019, August 1). The impact of racism on child and adolescent health. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved June 18, 2022, from

  3. The inclusion imperative. Common Sense Media. (2021, October). Retrieved June 18, 2022, from

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