Race conversations come up in the most ordinary ways. When my son was in the eighth grade, for instance, I asked the question, “how was your day?” His response: “A kid used the N-word toward a bunch of us Black guys in the cafeteria.” Suddenly, we were talking about race, and we were talking about it seriously. (But did that White boy’s mom talk with her son about race that day? I’m still wondering).
That “n-word incident” blew up quickly and expanded to include the other moms and parents, the principal and the head of the school. In other words, not only do Black parents’ race conversations include their own kids, many of us find ourselves having race conversations with White people and others in our children’s lives.
How do we handle these conversations? We explain. We educate. We sigh with frustration. And then we send our kids back into the world and wait for the next incident. Suffice it to say, race weighs heavily on Black parents’ minds.
My four children are all young adults now, so I’ve had a little time to reflect on how my husband and I talked about these issues with our own kids. Here’s my advice, to all of you going through it now.