Media Coverage: How to Talk to Kids About Race?

Adults often don't know how to talk about race with children, and I-LABS' Onnie Rogers is trying to help.

Photo caption: The cover of ParentMap's February 2016 issue, which features the story "Racism: Families push for racial justice."

Rogers, a research assistant professor at I-LABS and in the UW College of Education, uses in-depth interviews to reveal how race and gender stereotypes affect Black children and how they think about themselves.

Kids will tell her that skin color "doesn't matter," but then they also describe that on the playground or in the lunchroom they notice kids being excluded because of race. How do they make sense of that contradiction? She believes it will help if adults shed "colorblind ideology" and talk more with children about race and inequality.

Rogers shares more insights in two new media stories, published by a National Public Radio affiliate KUOW and the magazine ParentMap.

In a 9-minute interview with KUOW, Rogers spoke about her recent study that revealed three different patterns in which Black boys react to race and gender stereotypes about what they think about how others view them based on their race.

She also gave ideas on how to talk to kids about race. "We have to push beyond the colorblind, color mute ideology," Rogers said in the KUOW interview.

Her response to parents who don't know what to say to their children about race: "Be honest with yourself. Kids are forthcoming with their ideas. But then when they face resistance [from adults] they learn about what is OK to talk about and what isn't."

Rogers encouraged parents to think about the stereotypes they hold and to be open and honest.

In another story, published on the cover of the February 2016 issue of Seattle-based ParentMap magazine, Rogers talks more about pushing past the "colorblind message that 'skin color doesn't matter.'"

The ParentMap story highlights organizations around Seattle that are working with families of color who are affected by racism to build community and dialogue.

Read more about Rogers' work on her I-LABS faculty page »