Caroline Goldstein
June 05, 2020 9:26 am
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Axelle/Bauer-Griffin, Getty Images

Parents, prospective parents, white people who are considering becoming parents at any point in the future: We can all take a cue from Kristen Bell and teach our kids (or future kids) to be actively, vehemently anti-racist—even, or especially, if it makes you feel uncomfortable to do so. In a June 3rd interview with The Morning Beat, Bell spoke about her own anti-racist curriculum for her daughters, Lincoln, who is 7 years old, and Delta, who is 5.

“I have been having a lot of conversations with my children about what’s happening right now because I think part of the problem is discomfort. And just because you’re uncomfortable, that can never be the reason that a solution is not found,” Bell said.

Bell also recognized that the onus is not on the Black community to teach white people about systemic racism and how to fix it—white people need to do the work themselves. Crucially, that work involves having candid, ongoing conversations about racism with their white children. And children are never “too young” to learn, as Bell knows from speaking with her young daughters about the Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests happening all over the country (and the world).

“I showed my daughters some of the images that are happening right now because I think that they have more durability and more resilience than we give them credit for,” Bell told The Morning Beat.

“I showed them specifically the parallel of what was happening in Michigan, where there were white people yelling in the face of cops, holding guns and nothing was happening, versus people that were sitting on the ground protesting peacefully, being tear-gassed,” she added.

“I said, ‘What kind of problems do you see with this picture? Tell me about what you’re looking at right now,”‘ Bell continued. “And we had a very honest, hard, uncomfortable conversation about what was happening right now, because I will—this, you can put it on my gravestone—I will raise anti-racists. I will. I will talk about it with them forever.”

Bell is just one among several celebrities who have highlighted the importance of raising anti-racist children.

This week, Reese Witherspoon shared a conversation she had with her 7-year-old son about the murder of George Floyd, the historic protests following his death, and the deep-seated racism and bigotry that sparked it all. On Instagram, Nailed It host Nicole Byer “wrote something to help your white children understand what’s going on,” then added, “I did the work now you do some.” CNN is partnering with Sesame Street to host a town hall about explaining racism to children.

If you’re hesitant about having these conversations with your children, or you don’t know where to begin, consider reading some anti-racist children’s books with them. That can include Bell’s The World Needs More Purple People, which celebrates diversity and encourages children to “look for sameness, and that sameness comes in the form of values, personality, and action, not of colors,” Bell said. Even better: Buy them (and any other books on your TBR list) from a Black-owned independent bookstore.

“It can be done,” Bell confirmed. “They’re 5 and 7. And, can I tell you? They understand. They understand why when they are adults, they will be putting their body between their Black brothers and sisters and someone trying to brutalize them if that need arises. They know that that’s what they’ll be doing and they are 5 and 7.”