One of the biggest questions that have come up with the recent hate crimes against the AAPI community is how to raise anti-racist kids. While there is no one right way to do it, there are a plethora of ways to model inclusivity and teach kids the importance of diversity.
Have Frequent Honest Conversations With Your Kids
From a young, impressionable age, educate your kids about diversity and inclusion by having frequent conversations that recognize and celebrate differences. Many parents are surprised at how helpful simply talking about diversity and inclusion can be, and how non-judgemental kids really are. Just last week, I was talking to my 10-year-old about different minority groups and I was blown away. He said he doesn’t care what skin color someone is, where someone lives, what gender they identify with or who they love as long as they were kind, fun, and a good friend. It’s truly that simple. We are born without judgment. Hate and bigotry is something we are taught or modeled, so it really comes down to setting a good example.
Help Your Kids Process Their Feelings
Much like you would process an internal family conflict, a disappointing event at school, or a bad grade, it’s important for parents to help kids process what they are seeing in the media. You don’t want to shield your kids from the outside world, but parents should take time to process what is going on in the world, e.g the #StopAsianHate movement. Watch your responses and physical reactions to media pieces, as your kids see and hear everything. Ask your kids how they are feeling with everything going on.
Experience Different Cultures
In an ideal world, we would be able to travel the world to immerse ourselves in different cultures but it isn’t always financially possible. I have been having my older son pick different influential people in history from the “Who Is” series and present lessons on them to me. This puts them in a teacher role and you in a student role. We also go on Amazon Explore to virtually travel to different parts of the world to learn about their traditions with a live interactive one-on-one guide.
Be Mindful Of What You Consume
Model inclusivity as a parent by consuming art, movies, music, and more from a variety of different cultures. In my family, we watch documentaries and then talk about what we learned as a family. We also role-play and discuss stereotypes whenever possible. View these as opportunities to have a more open dialogue with your child and to talk about your own family’s rich history, their journey to America, and the traditions you maintain to this day.
Highlight the Beauty in Diversity
Pay attention to how you communicate with and about others. As an Asian, I get asked most often…”Where are you from?” The simple answer is here. I was born and raised in Orange County. So when you ask where I am from, I am from here. You might also be wondering what my ethnicity is but that is a different question. I am an American, the daughter of immigrants from India and Indonesia (Chinese). Teaching your child the difference between ethnicity and nationality is a great place to start, and sharing details of your own family history can help inspire your kids to see the beauty in diversity.
Model Speaking Up & Out
This past year there has been so much hate and violence toward Black people, Asians, and other minorities in this country. As a first-generation American, I grew up being taught not to speak out against injustices, but to keep silent. To move on. To say things only within our home. I think we are the generation that is changing that. We have to change that. Innocent Asian people are being attacked because of how they look and bigotry, and my heart is broken. I always think that could have been my Mom or my Dad, and that is not ok. All these lives that have been affected by Asian hate…they are someone’s Mom, Dad, grandparent, sibling just going about their lives before being harassed or violently attacked. As a parent, show your child how to speak up and out when faced with injustice.
Proudly Eat Foods From Different Cultures
I remember never wanting to bring leftovers to school for lunch because they were “smelly”, so I opted for something more socially-acceptable. I ate my Kimchi at home, I wouldn’t let my mom make Indian curry if friends were coming over, and my husband has been the only guy I ever let see my 99 Ranch Market purchases. I love everything from the seaweed crackers, mae ploy sauce and jackfruit to the pickled daikon radish, boba ice cream, sticky rice dessert, and fresh noodles. It has taken me a long time to be proud of my heritage and present it to the outside world. I suggest parents eat their favorite foods proudly and introduce their kids to foods from different cultures early on. When they are old enough, you could also sign them up for cooking lessons so they can learn how to make things like dumplings or curry. If you want your kids to embrace diversity, start in the kitchen.
I know the majority of people in this country don’t hate Asians but the recent attacks have hit hard and close to home. I’m not always sure how to stop it or how to be a part of the solution, but I do want to keep the conversation going because change is imperative. I’m here to lend a voice, to have a conversation, and to create a better world for our kids. I want a world where my boys can be proud to be 1/2 Asian and celebrate their culture. Life is hard as it is…the color of our skin shouldn’t be one of the aspects making it harder. After all, we are a country of immigrants.