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How to talk to kids about race

Dustin Dwyer

This week, State of Opportunity is focused on how race shapes opportunities for Michigan's children. Tomorrow you can tune in to Jennifer Guerra's hour-long documentary exploring the topic. The documentary airs at 3 p.m. and at 10 p.m. 

I think many adults are aware that race still plays a big role in children's lives. But many adults aren't sure how to talk about it with kids. Today, on State of Opportunity, I have a story looking at some strategies that can help. 

One of the biggest takeaways for me, both as a journalist and as a parent, is to embrace the uncertainty. My biggest fear in talking about race with my daughter is that I'm going to say or do something wrong. What if I accidentally make her racist?When I talked to UC Berkeley psychologist Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton about this, he turned the question around on me: 

“I’m not sure that question is different than any other parenting question," he said. 

And he's right. We deal with uncertainty all the time as a parents. Most of the time, I have no idea what I'm doing. But I move forward. If one idea doesn't work, I try something else. Why should talking about race be any different? The point is to keep trying. 

You can check out the full story on our State of Opportunity website here

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.