Let’s Talk About Racism

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Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs, activist, organizer, and artist, talks about how to raise anti-racist children, both in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and long-term, when police brutality and racial injustice have left the news cycle. She provides actionable steps for parents who don’t know where to start, including educating yourself, asking critical questions, and showing up for other communities. Plus, why Tabitha believes there’s no right or wrong time to talk with kids about racism. “If you’re wondering when is the right time to talk to your kids about race, I think the first step is to unpack the white privilege that exists in your home and in your family.”


You can follow Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs on Twitter and Instagram @tabithastb.


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Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs  00:05

Hi, I’m Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs, and you’re listening to GOOD KIDS. I am a mom, an activist and organizer and an artist. And I’m going to talk about raising anti-racist kids.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs 

Raising ant-racist children is a column that I started with Romper after George Floyd was murdered. And I started the column because I saw a wave of white people who were becoming awakened for the first time of racism in this country. And it was very distressing for me, because I have been in this country for 19 years. And racism is something that I’ve always dealt with. And it’s something that is a part of the fiber of this country. So the fact that so many white people will be becoming awakened to white supremacy in this country, racism in this country, and the experiences of black and brown people that was really distressing for me. But I saw a need to help people move past that initial feeling of shock, of that moments of looking at that really horrific video, and feeling horrified about it, to really channeling that into action, and really looking internally as to how each person can work on dismantling the systems in place in this country that allowed that to happen in the first place.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs 

I looked internally at myself, and I have been married to a white person for a very long time. We’ve been together for about 10 years now. And we are constantly having conversations. And I know that many people are not having these conversations in their homes. So I’ve always loved writing. And I’ve written for Romper before about race and parenting. And I reached out to them with an idea to have an ongoing series because we know that the trajectory of movements is that the assist first period of shock and the assists first period of everybody mobilizing and hitting the streets and wanting to do more and being driven to action. But what comes afterwards is sometimes equally important is what do you do when it leaves the news cycle?

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs  02:36

What do you do when you’re not thinking about it as the first thing on the news every day? What are you doing in your life to actively dismantle white supremacy? What are you doing in your life to make sure that you’re raising children that are not going to grow up to be the next white person with the knee on the neck of a black man. So that was the commitment that I made with Romper. And they were super excited about the idea. And they also saw the need for this to have these ongoing conversations.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs

And also to end each article with an actionable step for parents who are looking to do more, but don’t know where to start, don’t know where to begin. And we really wanted to make it an article, a column where people can learn and they can grow. And we can build on it from week to week, and people can come back to it to get really simple actionable ways that they can become more involved. When things are out of the news and when it’s not being pushed into the public consciousness as much.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs 

There is no right or wrong time to talk to kids about race and racism and white supremacy. I think it’s often something that white parents struggle with. But black parents don’t because we have no choice but to talk to our kids about these things from very early on. Because these are issues that they face head on in their lives in so many different areas. So if you’re wondering when is the right time to talk to your kids about race. I think the first step is to unpack the white privilege that exists in your home and in your family.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs  04:15

And I know that a lot of parents are probably thinking, you know, this is such a heavy topic. I don’t know how to even approach it. I don’t know how to brace it. And kids often have questions about race and racial identity, they just often aren’t, aren’t truly provided that space to talk about it. So I think it’s about making sure that your kids know that you prioritize these conversations at home, and that you are open to having these conversations, even if the parent doesn’t have all the answers, that at least you’re learning and you’re growing together.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs

There are so many questions that white parents can be thinking about if they’re sort of at the beginning of the process of wanting to have an anti-racist household. Some of these questions are all of the people around you white, or all of the people around your kids, white? If you live in a neighborhood and are surrounded by only family, and all of your families white and thinking about the people that your kids are exposed to on an ongoing basis, thinking about her race presents itself at your kids schools, on the playground, in the PTA meetings, thinking about how many people of color, or black people exist freely in your neighborhood.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs 

Not just live down the street from you, but actually feel safe walking down the streets, jogging, going to the supermarket and not being harassed by law enforcement and not being looked at sideways by white people. And these are questions that white parents need to ask themselves, and they need to think critically about the type of environments that their kids are growing up with, and thinking about how if you’re living in an environment where whiteness is just how things are presented. How can you do a better job of having these conversations with your kids so that they’re actually exposed to diversity?

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs  06:12

And talking about racial equity and spaces where it’s welcomed. How can you as a parent, as a white parent, use your privilege to have these conversations in your kids’ schools? How can you make sure that the kids in the schools are getting, getting an education that does not sent a whiteness, that does not sent colonialism? So you spending your white privilege in these spaces is so critically important. My article usually ends with one act, one thing that parents can do, and it’s been actually super difficult to narrow it down to just one act.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs 

Because what I definitely don’t want white parents to think is that you can solve racism by just doing one thing with every article. It’s so multi layered, it starts with making sure that you’re educated around how to have an anti-racist household, making sure you’re educated about the role of whiteness and racism in this country, in your lives, in your homes, on the playground, at work. So reading and educating yourself is so critically important. It’s one of the first steps. But taking that into action is also important. Making sure that you’re showing up for other communities. Going to protests is also just one start. Seeking out local organizations that work on issues that you’re passionate about, that directly impacts certain communities.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs 

If you have economic privilege, making donation, making a monthly donation to certain organizations, many smaller organizations that are in smaller communities that are doing very important work are under resourced, and need support. So setting up a monthly donation to smaller organizations to grassroots organizations is so important as well. And also really taking a critical look at what your kids are exposed to. The people they’re exposed to, the books they’re exposed to looking at what’s on your kid’s bookshelves, especially if they’re younger, and you’re still reading to them.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs  08:16

How many of these books are written by white authors and how many of them are written by authors of color? How many of these books feature young kids of color, black kids as the heroes in these stories, and how many of them talk about blackness in a way that speaks to black joy and black celebration and black success. So these are just some ways that white parents can start to dismantle these things in their home. This I mean, I just gave you many acts. But there are so many ways that parents can start if you’re just kind of starting to have these conversations.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs

One thing that’s also very important, is the atmosphere that you create in your home about race and racism. You need to make sure that your kids feel comfortable talking about these things, asking difficult questions, even if you don’t have the answer, just creating an environment where these questions are asked and maybe you’ll come back to your kids afterwards with the answers but creating a space where discomfort is not something to be shied away from but your kids very much know that they can ask these difficult questions and not be shamed for seeing things that they may be stumbling through as well.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs

You can follow me on Instagram at @tabithastb. And you can also find me on Romper.com for my bi-weekly column “Racing anti-racist kids.” Thank you for listening to GOOD KIDS.


GOOD KIDS is a Lemonada Media Original. Supervising producer is Kryssy Pease. Associate producer is Alex McOwen and Kegan Zema is our engineer. The show is executive produced by Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. The music is by Dan Molad with additional music courtesy of APM music. Check us out on social at @LemonadaMedia, recommend us to a friend and rate and review us wherever you listen to podcast. If you want to submit a show idea, email us at hey@lemonadamedia.com. Until next week, stay good.

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