In light of the recent public outrage in response to the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, combined with over 4oo years of oppression surrounding slavery and the continued inequities experienced by Black people, discussing racism with your nanny kids has become a conversation that must be tackled.
As with any large conversation or change that you wish to employ with your charges, we strongly advise that you sit down with the hiring parents ahead of time to discuss your intentions and to gain explicit approval and support to make sure you’re all on the same page. This conversation may feel like a very intense, heavy topic, but consider the following as a form of encouragement: “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” — Ijeoma Oluo
This conversation isn’t about you having a ‘perfect’ conversation about racism with your nanny kids, it’s about opening their eyes to racism (in an age-appropriate manner), as it exists today, and encouraging them to investigate how they can embrace anti-racism. Here are a few tips to help you get started!
Start With Some Excellent Reading
There are so many incredible books that touch on race and racism, available for all ages. Begin the conversation by reading a few age-appropriate books with them and open up the opportunity for them to ask questions in a safe environment. We suggest checking out the excellent collection of diverse children’s books compiled by Here Wee Read, linked here.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Bring up the topic of racism by asking your nanny kids questions about what they already know. Have they heard about recent events in the news? Do they have familiarity with the idea of race? What are their questions about race and racism? Establish an environment where their questions, thoughts, concerns, and curiosity is welcomed and encouraged.
Be Prepared To Say “I Don’t Know”
Acknowledge that you don’t have all of the answers. Be honest with your nanny kids and work with them to learn more about anything specific that you don’t readily know how to explain. Make researching and investigating a fun and engaging activity for them, and model how to seek an understanding of something new or unknown.
Invest In Your Own Growth
Know that working towards equity is a process and not one with a simple or quick resolution. We each have work to do, legitimate hard work, to dismantle the racist ideologies that are so systemic throughout society, and it starts within. What do we know about the history of being Black in America? How do we know what we know — was it relayed from Black leaders and historians, or has it been received through the lens of white privilege? Does that matter? (Spoiler: yes, it really does.) What have we done to research, listen, and investigate racism within our own minds, and within the day-to-day environments in which we operate? Consider investing in your own education by seeking out resources and literature that center Black voices. We suggest reading this article from the New York Times which offers some excellent books to get started.
Continue The Conversation
Foster an environment with your nanny kids where the conversation about racism is not limited to structured moments of learning. Communicate that asking questions and trying to gain a better understanding of racism is not a one-time thing, this is an ongoing commitment to seeking equity. Did your nanny kids recently witness an event at the grocery store that brought up questions about race for them? Ask them open-ended questions about what they experienced, how they felt, how the other people involved acted or reacted, and work through that specific moment with kindness and support for them as they process complicated feelings.
As nannies and caregivers, we have such an enormous responsibility to nurture the next generation and to provide them with the tools to stand on our shoulders and outgrow us. In many ways, the future will look the way it will due in large part to our actions today. Working towards equity and being anti-racist is not about attaining perfection, it is about acknowledging and fighting racism when and where you see it at play. Learning more about the historical threads of racism in society will allow you to see even more areas where work is needed. Sometimes our own lived experiences cloud our perspective of what others have experienced and are continuing to experience. The more that you invest in your own understanding of systemic racism, and continue creating an honest, open environment where your nanny kids can question and process, the more that you are actively fighting racism. Our collective future will be so bright, and it will be because of our brilliant, kind-hearted, curious children, and our continued commitment to supporting them through difficult and important moments, just like this.
If you are looking for an exceptionally skilled nanny or private educator for your child, we’d love to hear from you!
If you feel that you have what it takes to become an Adventure Nanny or private educator, reach out to us.