1 Way to Talk about Race with Children

All summer long I’ve been taking pit stops between book signings to go to weddings, attend to medical treatments, and visit old friends. We were driving back from the beach. The van was full: four boys, and three parents.

“You’re brown,” my friend’s blonde headed children to said to my son.

“I’m not brown!” He protested. “I’m peach.”

“You’re brown.”

“Mohana, help,” my friend called from the front seat.

“Is it important what people look like?” I asked my child who was born overseas, is a third culture kid of mixed race parents, and whose mother writes regularly about diversity.


“What is important?”

“How they treat us.”

I originally developed this sequence of chats with the five year old to address his reactions to many of the morbidly obese people we see in Qatar and America. A child’s fascination with difference is normal and also a great opportunity to lay foundations for life long learning.

This 40 second backseat chat about race may not seem like a big deal but for two children from North Carolina and two children living overseas, this is the beginning of a lifetime of compassion.

What are the topics you talk about with your nieces, nephews, sons, or daughters?