At Boys & Girls Clubs of America, we support youth and teens of every race and ethnicity in reaching their full potential. We are committed to ensuring equity and inclusion for all young people and pledge to listen, take action and create solutions on matters concerning race and social justice.
A better tomorrow for all kids, families and communities means all people will do their part to ensure the youngest generation acknowledges and appreciates their cultural differences, yet has the tools to navigate the racism and prejudice they will undoubtedly encounter.
Parents and caregivers, especially those raising children of color, play a critical role in building the resiliency that young people need to thrive in a complex world, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Youth need their parents to be advocates who are confident in their own ability to make change and conquer challenges.
In Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings (4th Edition), adolescent health experts recommend several practices to develop and strengthen resilience in children of color. Additionally, experts provide tips for all parents, not just those with children of color, to support each other and be allies against racism.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, here are some ways that parents can prepare children of color in positive ways:
- Celebrate ethnic pride and teach youth about their cultural history and heritage.
- Emphasize positive views of oneself that develop a healthy self-worth. Let them know that they are deeply loved.
- Be honest with children about inequitable systems and societies that they will encounter.
- Share experiences of racial prejudice and discrimination as well as strategies you used to cope. This helps prepare youth to adapt to and operate in a racialized world.
- Emphasize that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
- Teach independence. When children have a sense of control over their environments, they also feel that they can improve or influence it.
- Instill abilities to recognize racial stereotypes and the harm they inflict. Likewise, teach critical consciousness to analyze popular media and identify messages that obscure truth and contribute to bias.
- Engage with teens when they want to talk about difficult issues. Ask questions that show you value their opinions and views. Listen and learn what’s important to them and what they are struggling with.
Here are other ways to be an ally for parents of color and counter racism and discrimination:
Read more about these practices in a select chapter from Building Resilience in Children and Teens.
- Expose children to as many different cultures and experiences as possible. You can visit museums, travel to different communities and purchase books and movies that represent diverse individuals.
- Examine your own bias and work to eliminate them. Talk to your children about stereotypes and dispel myths when you see them. Also, be honest with youth about realities of the racialized world we live in.
- Develop new friendships and relationships. Become an advocate for a family or child who is experiencing discrimination.
The chapter, Raising Youth of Color in a Complex World, was shared with Boys & Girls Clubs of America by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg and the American Academy of Pediatrics.