HAVING CONVERSATIONS WITH CHILDREN ABOUT RACISM – COMMUNITY RESEARCH FEEDBACK
Last year we conducted some research to establish patterns of conversations about racism within Black families. We especially wanted to know whether conversations about racism take place during childhood, when and how frequently.
We will be holding a FREE community feedback session on Monday 25th January 2020 at 19h00 GTM for participants and anyone else interested in the welfare of black children and children of colour with a view of further discussing the implications and some recommendations.
To book your place simply use the form at the bottom of the page. Places are strictly limited. If you participated in this study, please indicate so in the form, so your attendance can be prioritised. To learn more about our findings read on.
RESEARCH SUMMARY AND KEY FINDINGS
Who took part?
Initially, 733 participants completed the survey. However, 19 were excluded as they did not provide information on their racial identity or their racial identity was white of non-black POC (person of colour). We analysed the responses of the remaining 714 participants (121 men, 576 women, 15 agender/non-binary) whose racial identities were Black African (280), Black Caribbean (315), Black American (40), Black British/European (13), Black Latinx (4), Black of multiple black backgrounds (17), Black Mixed (45). In the main, participants were aged 34-40 and resided in the UK.
What initial patterns did we see in the responses?
Overall, most participants were spoken to about racism as children and this occurred approximately once a year, although these conversations were more frequent (monthly) for the Black Americans, Black Latinx and Black people of multiple backgrounds. A greater portion of participants from Black Caribbean (63%) and Black American backgrounds (79%) were spoken to about racism than those from Black African (49.6%) backgrounds. On average, participants were aged 9 – 11 when first having these conversations, with Black British/European participants being slightly older, aged 12 – 14.
Digging deeper: what relationships did we see in the patterns of responses?
There was a significant relationship between whether participants were spoken to about race as children and the frequency at which this occurred. We also found that the age at which participants were first spoken to was strongly linked to the frequency at which they were spoken to, with those who were spoken to earlier being spoken to more frequently. A smaller link was found between which Black group individuals identified as and their age when they were first spoken to about race.
Digging even deeper: what differences did we see between Black groups?
We explored whether racial identity was linked to a) participants’ having been spoken to about race as a child, b) the frequency participants were spoken to about racism as children and c) the age at which participants were first spoken to.
There were significant differences between Black African and Black Caribbean groups on whether they had been spoken to about racism as children and how often they had been spoken to, with conversations being more common in Black Caribbean groups. Differences were also found between Black African and Black American groups regarding whether they were spoken to about racism as children. We found the most variation between groups in terms of how frequently they were spoken to about racism. Differences were particularly prevalent when comparing Black African groups with Black American, Black Caribbean and Black Mixed groups, with Black Africans, with the former group being consistently spoken to at a lower frequency.
Implications and recommendations
As per the above patterns, a significant number of black children may not be spoken to about racism (overall about 1/3 of children of all black groups). Our research indicates that almost half of all U.K. based children of Black African heritage may not be having conversations about racism. Further, these conversations may be taking place later than might be supportive/timely and not frequently enough, particularly in the U.K (and Europe).
Not being spoken to about racism as a child affects awareness of and preparation for managing racist encounters. It deprives children of support. Children’s experiences of denial of racism by parents has been linked to poor long term mental health outcomes, although less is known about the impact of late conversations/no conversation, the broader literature on racial trauma suggests this may increase psychological vulnerability. It is essential for mental and physical health and development across the lifespan that we equip parents and adults with the tools to discuss racism with their children so that they are more prepared for encounters be they overt, covert or microaggressive.
Parents/adults can also think about how they explore race with their child – this may be through books or toys. They may also want to think about examples suitable for their child’s level of understanding that can begin to help them to understand what racism can look like. Giving the child access to role models and positive figures who share their racial identity can also help support them to develop a positive racial identity and not internalise negatives that may arise in conversations about racism. It is also important to give the child space to respond and ask questions, although you may not have all of the answers and the conversation may be uncomfortable, this is an awareness journey for you and the child to go on together.
BOOKING ONTO THE COMMUNITY FEEDBACK SESSION
To join us in the community feedback session use the form below. If we are able to offer you a place, you will receive a confirmation email within 72 hours of the event together with the zoom link.