How to Raise an Antiracist Child in the 20th century

Ibram X Kendi is a National Book Award-winning historian and the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. In his new book, Kendi argues that the only way to dismantle racism is to fight it actively. “There is no such thing as being ‘not racist,'” he writes. “We are either racist or antiracist.”

 

Kendi’s advice for parents raising antiracist children is simple: Teach them about racism, and let them know it’s okay to talk about race. “The first step is acknowledging that racism exists,” he writes. “The second step is teaching our children what racism is.”

 

When talking about race with kids, Kendi says there’s no need to sugarcoat the conversation. “We have to tell them the truth,” he says. “Racism is a powerful force in this country, and it’s something they’re going to have to deal with throughout their lives.”

 

Kendi also recommends teaching kids about the history of racism in America, starting with slavery. “It’s important for them to understand that racism didn’t just start with Donald Trump,” he says. “It started long before that.”

antiracist

Finally, Kendi says it’s important to let kids know they can be part of the solution. “Tell them they have the power to fight racism,” he writes. “Encourage them to speak up when they see it is happening.”

He discusses a story of his wife being ignored by medical professionals despite her concerns during pregnancy.

 

It’s 2016, and my wife Sadiqa is in an ambulance, its sirens blazing. Sadiqa is a physician, but she’s never been a patient in an ambulance before. Despite raising concerns during her pregnancy with several medical professionals, she was repeatedly ignored and reassured. She has a medical degree, had just turned 37, and worked in the same hospital that provided her maternal care. But education, social status, wealth, age, and access to premium care could not ensure that medical providers would take the concerns of Black women seriously.

 

During this emergency, it quickly became clear that the EMTs would not give Sadiqa the level of care she deserved. She gave them our home address, but they insisted on taking her to the hospital closest to their location. When Sadiqa asked why she couldn’t be taken to the hospital where she worked—a facility with a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit—the EMTs said it wasn’t in their protocol.

 

At the hospital, Sadiqa was triaged and seen by a doctor, who dismissed her concerns and told her she was being “dramatic.” He sent her home with a prescription for Tylenol.

 

Just as Sadiqa found herself in an emergency, not of her own making, we also find our society in a dire, life-threatening emergency. Strict gun safety laws could prevent the spate of mass shootings that have rocked the US and Europe. But the mantra of white supremacy – that white people are under attack from immigrants – has greased the political wheels that rolled back gun safety laws. The west has been flooded with high-powered rifles and racist ideas, making our children and us a life-threatening situation.

 

In his new book How to Raise an Antiracist Child, Ibram X Kendi argues that the only way to dismantle racism is to fight it actively. “There is no such thing as being ‘not racist,'” he writes. “We are either racist or antiracist.”

 

Kendi’s advice for parents raising antiracist children is simple: Teach them about racism, and let them know it’s okay to talk about race. “The first step is acknowledging that racism exists,” he writes. “The second step is teaching our children what racism is.”

Between 2018 and 2020, Black babies were the most likely to be born premature (14.2%), more likely than Native American babies (11.6%), Latinx babies (9.8%), and white babies (9.2%) and Asian/Pacific Islander babies (8.8%).

 

 

Finally, Kendi says it’s important to let kids know they can be part of the solution. “Tell them they have the power to fight racism,” he writes. “Encourage them to speak up when they see it is happening.”

 

So what can we do? We can start by raising anti-racist children both in school and out of school.

You can read an excerpt from How to Raise an Antiracist Child here.

the IPGCE aims to provide opportunities for teachers to be able to implement inclusivity in their teacher goals. Check out the University of Derby’s programme here.