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How Families Can Support Black Children’s Racial Identity

May 15th, 2020 | 2 min. read

By Ashleigh Craven

Guest post by Kerry-Ann Escayg, PhD, co-author of Don't Look Away: Embraicing Anti-Bias Classrooms, discussing how families can support racial socialization—a necessary component to a child’s holistic development. Dr. Escayg shares specific ways families can center their child's racial identity. 


Do you talk to your child about race? How do you help her to feel a positive sense of identity?

The impact of anti-Blackness in the lives of Black children, including the potential trauma to their developing sense of self, requires that parents discuss racism with children, while at the same time, ensuring they develop a positive racial identity. For such can mitigate the social-emotional effects of being exposed to negative images, discourse, and stereotypes that devalue Blackness and Black identity.

There lies an opportunity (provided that families have the resources and the time) to nurture one area of children’s social-emotional development: their racial identity.  

Research shows that racial socialization is linked to positive racial identity; although, the bulk of the literature has focused on older children. Investigations on young children, though sparse, also reveal positive child outcomes. Racial socialization is necessary to a child’s holistic development, particularly in a context such as the United States, where racial oppression and injustice persist.

During this challenging time of remote learning, families can complement the academic curriculum by centering their child’s racial identity. For instance, they can discuss the following with their children:

  • Black history, including pre-slavery history
  • Examples of Black leaders and change agents (historical and contemporary)
  • Skin color and hair texture in positive and affirming ways
  • Contributions of African Americans and the African Diaspora (past and present)

Parents and families of young Black girls can also discuss Black women who have defied racial barriers, empowered their community, and resisted race-gender ideologies through self-pride and collective resistance. Empowering young Black girls with self-love and self-acceptance is an act of parental and community resistance, connecting the threads of past, present, and future activism—and Black feminism. Activism, therefore, is the outward manifestation of self-acceptance and racial pride, the understandings of self and other connections, and the recognition of the “I” in the “we.” 

By providing Black children with an education rooted in racial pride, we prepare them for educational and personal success. We give them the tools to chart their journeys, to effect change, to recognize and challenge injustice regionally and nationally. We give them hope. And, all things considered, is hope not the very essence of love?


About the Author 

Kerry-Ann Escayg, PhD, is an assistant professor of early childhood education at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is co-author of Don’t Look Away: Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms.

Author(s)Iheoma Iruka, PhD, Stephanie Curenton, PhD, Tonia Durden, PhD, Kerry-Ann Escayg, PhD

Ashleigh Craven

Ashleigh Craven has a decade and a half of diverse category experience from agency communications to athletic apparel to automotive to education, developing and executing communication strategies in both traditional and social media. She has supported national product launches and corporate events for the likes of Soffe, Buick, Chevrolet, Wake Forest University , Kaplan, and others. She has an BA from the University of Michigan in English and Communication Studies and an MA from Wake Forest University, where she focused her studies on argumentation and presidential rhetoric and speechwriting. She served as director of marketing for Gryphon House from 2017- 2020.