There’s a lot of lofty advice floating around about how white parents can fight racism. But I prefer real talk and hands on approaches. In hopes that this helps others, here’s how I talk to my five white kids about race.

  1. God made people different colors because of joy. The ultimate truth is that God made people in His image out of love. They’re all different shapes and colors because that’s what makes God happy.
  2. Starting 500 years ago, greedy people invented the idea that brown people aren’t humans. They did this so they could kidnap people -even little kids- and hurt them and make them work for no money. This went on for over 300 years, and it’s still happening in some places now. We call that time period “slavery.”
  3. It took a lot of brave people of all colors fighting a long time to end slavery. Even though it’s been against the law for 150 years, a lot of people still think brown people aren’t human. They think this because they want to steal the money and stuff brown people have. 
  4. If you hear someone talk about a person with dark brown skin in these ways, it’s because the person talking is greedy and a thief. They want what isn’t theirs and have forgotten they shouldn’t steal. The greedy people will use these words about brown people: lazy, roaches, slimy, sneaky, dishonest, scary, violent, demon, no angel, don’t deserve it, not hard workers, stupid, ignorant, welfare, entitled, bad priorities, lacking understanding. You’ll hear how the greedy person uses these words for all brown people. 
  5. Greedy people will also call everyone who speaks Spanish -like your Uncle D and Cousin L or Ms. M at church or Ms. O and her girls or Ms. E’s mama – Mexicans. They’ll say it as though “Mexican” is a gross word, like “stinky poop.” They might say “black” or “African American” in a nasty tone of voice, too. 
  6. Remember how Maleficent mocks Aurora’s Prince? She had bad habits and was greedy, too. Or how Hans made fun of Anna when he didn’t love her? He was trying to steal her kingdom. Or how Mother Gothel stole Rapunzel because she wanted all the sun flowers power for herself.  Same with Ursula. Same with the bad guys in Kung Fu Panda. They’re lying because they’re trying to steal.
  7. The bad guys got that way by believing they deserved to be in charge and that they could just steal kingdoms and hurt people to get their way. 
  8. Racism -pretending brown people are evil so you can steal their stuff- is the same thing, except that it’s a lot of little stealing and a lot of little lying about the way people are. It builds up so that some people can’t even see it’s a bad idea.
  9. People will treat you nicely sometimes as part of being mean to brown people. Think of Cinderella’s stepmom spoiling Cinderella’s stepsisters. She did it partly to humiliate and hurt Cinderella. Sometimes you will be given something just so that a mean person doesn’t have to give it to a brown person. 
  10. If you hear a person saying mean things about a brown person, even if they give you a present or are nice to you, don’t trust the person saying mean things. They’re lying and trying to trick you into being greedy with them.
  11. Here are some things you can say: “Stop it.” “I don’t think it’s right to talk about people like that.” “I think God loves everyone the same.” “I don’t like when you talk about brown people that way.”
  12. Usually, the person saying the lies will argue with you. Not long ago, your Daddy met a man who kept insulting “Mexicans.” Dad said, “I’d appreciate it if you’d watch what you’re saying about Mexicans. My brother is a Mexican.” The man said, “Oh, well, they’re short.” Dad said, “You’d be surprised.” The man stopped. Notice that Dad didn’t get the mean man to repent of all his greed or bad habits. But he made it clear that it is not ok to say lies about brown people.
  13. Sometimes the mean people will threaten you or insult you when you tell them to stop saying bad things about brown people. It’s still your responsibility as a Christian to tell bad guys “no-no,” but don’t do it alone. If you come across someone who seems mean or is hurting someone else, say, “Stop!” And “No!” And call for help.
  14. Even the people who believe lies about brown people will see your light skin and treat you nicer. You can use the attention they give you to stop them hurting others. 
  15. If someone says something mean about brown people, tell Mommy and Daddy. We’ll see what we can do about it.
  16. If you see another kid get called a mean name or treated mean because they’re brown, stand next to them. Stand next to them and glare at the person saying the mean thing. 
  17. If you get a chance, tell the kid who was hurt, “You don’t deserve to be treated like that.” 
  18. Don’t expect the kid to thank you or talk with you. It’s common decency in God’s kingdom to see another person as good. You can nod and walk away once you say this.
  19. The greedy bad habit that says brown people aren’t human also lies to light skinned people. It says that we should get to say what is or isn’t good or cool or interesting or true. If you don’t like the clothes or music of someone brown, don’t think that matters to whether the brown person’s stuff is beautiful to God.
  20. Remember what we say at Church, that we’re like the thief. Always ask for God’s love to show you how to treat people. Always remember that God creates people in different colors for joy.