Religious Exploration: Taking About Race with Our Children

Talking-with-kidsMy colleague, Aisha Hauser, recently shared her stories about racial identity and talking about race with children. She grew up in the only Egyptian family in her neighborhood in NJ. As a mom and UU religious educator much later she was surprised that her teenage daughter said she didn’t identify with any particular race. In a post on the UUA blog “Call and Response” Aisha observes that “.. many Unitarian Universalist parents are very proud of how open and honest they are when they talk to their children. However, the eagerness for clear and explicit conversation comes to a screeching halt with regard to race.”
White children, even young children, need help from adults to process the racism they see in the world.
Aisha gives these starting points to talk to children
• If you are white, live in an area that is homogeneous, and have little opportunity to interact with people of color, I would suggest you visit the Teaching Tolerance website for stories you and your family can read and reflect on together.
• Find opportunities to listen together to news stories about racial disparities and tensions. Talk with children to help them understand and process incidents, including related protests, public debates and the veracity and fairness of the media coverage itself.
• Familiarize yourself, on the Standing on the Side of Love website, with ways our Unitarian Universalist movement supports the Black Lives Matter movement. Tell children how our religious leaders and communities have been protesting and working toward transformation.
• Most importantly, talk about what it means to be an ally. Being a white ally means educating yourself about how black people in this country have been and continue to be treated. While the issues are systemic and complex, one step toward transformation is starting the conversation.
You can read Aisha’s post at
Are you interested in sharing your experiences in talking to your children about race? Our Social Responsibilities Chair, Jean Poppei and I recently attended a webinar on following up on the Black Lives Matter movement. She and I are working to find more resources for parents and teachers to start or continue conversations.

Would you like to have a support group with others at our congregation? Let me know your thoughts.

In joyful service,

About Leah

Leah and her husband, Kevin Purcell, live in Albany. They have two grown daughters that were raised at Albany UU. Leah has served as DRE at Albany UU since 2007; before that she worked in both private and public schools. She served as Chair of the Seaway Chapter of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) and now serves on the LREDA Board.

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