At MELA, we believe in Mississippi children’s inherent potential, regardless of race, socio-economic status, family history, physical ability or other distinction. Because continued Racism (and the fear, stress, and anxiety that goes with it) harms so many of our children, their families, and in turn, our whole state, we know we cannot ignore it in our work. Unless we tackle the root causes of it and its effects head on, it will continue to be a major stumbling block to our mission– to achieve systemic change leading to the holistic development of Mississippi children in their first 8 years of life.
It can be difficult for adults to even broach the subject with one another, which is why we’ve scoured our own bookshelves, asked our friends and teachers, and researched what diverse, knowledgeable people on the internet recommend to help parents, teachers, and caregivers talk about this difficult topic with our young children, regardless of their racial background. It is our hope that every family in Mississippi will find resources in the guide you can download here that apply to them whether they are parents of color working to dismantle implicit racist messages their children may have internalized about their own race, or white families seeking to educate their children and work towards a more equitable, anti-racist Mississippi. Please use this guide to find MELA-approved books, articles, podcasts, videos, and tips for engaging young children around conversations of race. We are immensely grateful to many websites and resources for their amazing research and material that we’ve drawn from and listed in this guide.
Lastly, we want to acknowledge that this guide is meant to represent a starting point for helping young children understand these complex topics. There are racial groups that are not represented in this guide. There are multiple layers of intersectionality (class, gender, religion, etc.) within each racial group, creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage, which we did not explore. Race is a socially constructed idea created in a system designed to be unequal from its inception. Having honest discussions with young children about race will be tough, and you will not find all the answers in this guide. However, if you are stuck, we urge you to start with the resources that we have included in the downloadable guide and continue to broaden the learning and experiences of your family. By starting early, we can raise a new generation of empathetic, anti-racist, culturally competent Mississippians who will reach new heights for our state!
The MELA Team