Uju Asika is not only one of the most gifted writers I know but she’s also one of the most caring and sisterly friends a girl could ask for. In fact, Uju is more than a friend to me, she’s family.
Uju was the first friend I made in the blogging world back in 2011, bonding initially over a chocolate dessert we both ordered at lunch with an Olympian (as you do), on one of the first blogging jobs I was hired on, and later on everything else: creativity, motherhood, our values and passions…I love Uju with my all my heart and I couldn’t be more proud that her debut bestselling book, Bringing Up Race-How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World is out now. This book is a vital handbook every parent and teacher needs to read in order to raise a kinder generation. I’m honoured to also feature in the book.
Here on the blog, Uju is sharing an extract from her non-fiction book on how to start discussing race with your children.
You can enter to win a copy of it at the end of the post.
Good luck if you enter, and over to Uju for her wisdom:
How Do I Start Conversations about Race with My Kids? By Uju Asika
How do I start conversations about race with my kids?
People ask me this question all the time, especially since I wrote a book on the subject. Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World is a guide for parents, educators and anybody who cares about building a better, more inclusive world. It contains stories from me and my family as well as other parents (mostly mums) sharing their experiences of racism and bigotry and how they are trying to raise their children to be antiracist. I cover topics from skin tone prejudice and how to say ‘difficult’ names to the best ways to talk to children of any age about race and prejudice.
Here is an excerpt from a chapter titled Conversations About Race:
*There are people who believe the world would be a much fairer, happier place if people didn’t keep bringing up race. They think talking about racism creates more division.
‘Leave it alone,” they insist. “You’re stirring up things that don’t need stirring.’
However, a pot still stews, even if you don’t stir it. And one of the biggest contributors to the stew of racial hatred is ignorance. When ideas and attitudes remain unspoken, untested and unchallenged, they can turn dangerous. In a world becoming more and more polarised, talking to our children about race might be our saving grace.
So when is the right time to bring up such a sensitive topic?
Sooner than you think. By the time your child asks you that embarrassing question, it is already late. Never too late, however. Now is a good time to begin. You can even start with a baby bump or a newborn. Some experts recommend talking with your baby before they can talk back. Sounds a bit cuckoo, but it’s pretty smart, because you can talk without fear of judgment. You can practice saying things out loud that you might not dare say in adult company.
Sachi Ferris who runs the excellent resource Raising Race Conscious Children blogs about reading the board book Baby Faces with her newborn when he was five days old. During Raising Race Conscious Children’s workshops, she asks participants to pretend they’re talking to a baby.
If you’ve been babbling away with a baby, you’ll be more prepared for those toddler and preschooler interrogations. At this stage, kids might be super curious about visual differences between themselves and their friends. They might also have picked up on disparities in who lives where, who works in what job, and who is in your social circle. Be ready to answer as openly as you can.
Entrepreneur and mother of three Shanthi Annan says: ‘I’m very open and factual about race. My son asked me why there aren’t many Black people at school and I told him we are in Europe, which means geographically there are more White people here. I also reminded him that when he is in Ghana there are mostly Black people there and he got it. A friend told me about a conversation her son had with mine when they were four. Her son asked my son why he is brown and my son answered, ‘Because people are different colours’ and they happily went about their day. I was very pleased to know he had an empowering first experience on this subject.’
If you get stuck, you can meet a question with another question. ‘I’m curious, why did you ask me that?’ Or you can turn the answer into a treasure hunt. ‘Hmm, I’m not sure about that, shall we find out together?’ There’s no shame in admitting you don’t have all the answers. Kids appreciate that you are on a learning journey too.
Books make excellent teachers and conversation starters. Stuck on what to tell a child about why hair is frizzy or straight, why noses are pointed or curvy, why skin is pale or freckled or earthy or patchwork? Somebody else has said it before you, probably with illustrations to match. You can find books for every age and stage to help your child learn about diversity, kindness, self-appreciation and cultural respect (find more resources at the back of Bringing Up Race).*
*Excerpt from Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World by Uju Asika, published by Yellow Kite (Hachette). Available on Amazon UK, Waterstones, Word on the Water (delivery to North America and Europe) and other major bookstores.
Excitingly,Uju is kindly offering one of my lucky readers the chance to win a personalised copy of the book Bringing Up Race worth £16.99 below!
Photo above copyright Uju Asika.
Uju Asika is a multiple award-nominated blogger (babesabouttown.com), digital consultant (mothersandshakers.net) and author of the book Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World, published on September 3, 2020 by Yellow Kite (Hachette UK). Available for Pre-Order on Amazon UK and Waterstones Follow Uju @babesabouttown on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook.
Competition ends 18.11.2020
No cash alternative.
If the winner does not respond within 7 days of the notification email being sent, a new winner will be chosen randomly.
Enter more competitions here.
Faux flower wreath gifted by Bloomand Willow UK.