Explaining to My Eight-Year-Old That Yes, She Too, is Racist

(L) The author and his younger daughter, Aya, at a BLM protests in 2017. (R) The author’s older daughter, Noa, at another pre-COVID protest in 2017.

Something was missing from our family conversations. We have talked with our kids about racism as something other people are guilty of perpetuating … We’d like to think it’s just those few bad apples. But it’s not just them; it’s us, too.

Cumulative scores from 3+ million people who have taken Harvard’s Implicit Racial Bias Test

So that night I tried something that I haven’t done before: I admitted to my kids that I have racial biases. I told them the story about my brief interaction with the man on the street, focusing not on the specific thoughts I had about him, but instead on the flash judgments I made and my curiosity about how those were impacted by race — both his and mine.

Images from Project Implicit’s Implicit Association Test: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
My neighborhood in Oakland.

Ultimately, my biggest takeaway from this conversation is that it proves I can either be courageous and inspire action, or be silent and raise kids whose unexamined biases might lead them to cause real harm.

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