Parents of Color Don't Have the Luxury of Avoiding the 'Hard' Conversations

black parents conversations on race

NPR’s latest article has a lot of people talking, and not for a good reason.

The article discusses a recent survey that found that “a majority of parents rarely, if ever, discuss race/ethnicity, gender, class or other categories of social identity with their kids.”

These topics may be uncomfortable for some parents to talk about, especially if they don’t know how to approach the conversation. But to say that most parents don’t have these conversations at all isn’t exactly true.

Twitter was quick to point out the article’s ignorant headline, with one user commenting,

“Nonwhite people are literally having these conversations daily. It’s a matter of survival for us. This headline speaks to the privilege in which the writer resides.”

Others shared their own heartbreaking stories of how and why they needed to have a conversation with their parents about race and identity noting that parents of color constantly talk to their kids about social issues. Why? Because they have no choice.

What the study in question, which was conducted by Sesame Workshop (the company behind Sesame Street), actually said was that the percentages differed based on the race of the parent. The study found,

“Compared to other groups, Black parents are most likely to report on the importance of identity in determining children’s future. Black parents are much more likely to see race/ethnicity as having a major impact (49%) on the children’s ability to succeed in this country than white (28%), Hispanic (29%), or Asian parents (29%).”

Unfortunately, the NPR article only focused on the first few pages of the study, where the parent’s races are not identifiable.

The article also barely mentions that the study found that, “parents of color are more likely than white parents to say that their child’s race/ethnicity shapes their child’s identity” and that “parents of color, particularly Black parents, are more likely to discuss their child’s race/ethnicity with them compared to white parents.”

It also fails to mention that the study explicitly states that Muslim parents (46%) and Jewish parents (28%) were more likely to report that their children had received negative comments about their religion. And the article doesn’t even mention that immigrant parents were more likely to report their children were being bullied because they came from a different country.

The lack of proper information within the article is far from harmless. By lumping all parents together, it creates the misconception that a vast majority of parents in this country don’t believe that these issues exist.

What the article should have said is that the majority of white parents don’t talk to their kids about race/ethnicity and other social issues because they often don’t feel like they have to. But they need to.

The fact of the matter is that many parents of color and their kids don’t have the privilege of ignoring these issues and conversations. And it’s time society recognizes that.


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Alysia Stevenson
Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she's not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.