Black History Month a good time to talk to kids about race, says local therapist

Hadas Kuznits
February 17, 2020 - 4:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — February is Black History Month, and a local therapist suggests it's also a good time to open up a conversation about race with your children, especially in families that are not ethnically diverse.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Allen Lewis conceded talking about race with children can be a difficult conversation to have with your kids but he said, "Just like black history is for everyone, I think that this topic is for everyone."

He added that if parents stop short of addressing the inequality in America by telling their kids that everyone is equal, this can be confusing. 

"They're getting that message from you, but unfortunately society isn't saying the same message," he said.

Lewis recommends talking about race and inequality in terms that children can understand. "I think that kids understand not being fair," he explained. "This idea of injustice and that's why we have to see a person for who they are, not just the color of their skin."

And he recommends taking the conversation a step further by talking to them about how to be an advocate. "Because it's usually oh, be nice and that's where their conversation ends."

For kids, he says being an advocate can be as simple as teaching them to play with everyone and not exclude someone based on how they look. "I think it is giving the kids the language to use. It can be as simple as, 'I don't do that. I play with everyone. We're all different.'"

Lewis stressed that is an issue that kids notice, whether you talk about it or not.

"It is a disservice to steamroll over this topic just because it is uncomfortable," he advised. "There is a lot to risk if you don't have these conversations with your kids."