DEAR HARRIETTE: Seemingly out of the blue, they are reading lots of books about race at my son’s school. Seriously, they have read three books back-to-back about racial injustice. While I think it is important for the kids to learn about these topics, it is making us uncomfortable. Not everything is about race, but you would never know from this class. I don’t have the knowledge or time to debate these issues with my son every day.
I’m not trying to be rude or insensitive. My husband and I work hard to make sure that our son is thoughtful and not racist, but we also don’t want him to feel super self-conscious about being white. He shouldn’t have to apologize for being himself. I don’t know how to support him as times change. I do teach him to treat everyone with respect, but does that mean I have to allow him to be exposed to so much conversation about the atrocities of racism? -- Too Much Race Talk
DEAR TOO MUCH RACE TALK: I need to respectfully disagree with you on this. Hopefully your son is in the perfect place to engage in a conversation that is necessary for healing in our country. The good news, in my book, is that schools are walking toward the challenge rather than avoiding it. Perhaps our youth will be able to wrestle issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in respectful, creative ways. Consider that this is the way you can think about the curriculum he is engaging, rather than as a burden.
I think you should read the books, too, so that you can have informed conversations with him about what he is learning. Your job as a parent is to guide your child and to help him process whatever information comes before him. The more you equip yourself with the conversations of the day coupled with your own experience, the better you will be able to help him navigate this extremely challenging reality -- that racial injustice is still staring us in the face, and we have to do something about it.
For support, visit courageousconversation.com. This organization is devoted to helping educational institutions -- from administrators to students to parents -- learn how to talk respectfully and honestly about the realities of race, equity, inclusion and diversity in meaningful ways.