News & Articles / General News

Community Conversation Recap: Teaching Your Kids About Racism

| By | 2 min read

On Thursday, September 30, several members of the community gathered on Zoom to discuss the issue of “Teaching Your Kids About Racism.” This community conversation was part of a program sponsored by a grant from Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an initiative of the American Library Association and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries. 

The discussion started with participants sharing their names, how long they’ve lived in the community, and their relationships to the children in their lives. From there, they talked about the personal importance to them of discussing racism with children. One community member mentioned the desire for children today to have a different experience than he had growing up, which he described as “being ignorant about what racism is.” Another person echoed that feeling, remembering being told not to discuss race or racial differences as a young person.

Although the participants agreed that teaching children about racism is important to them, not everyone reported feeling equally comfortable doing so. Some people, through their professional work with children, feel confident when bringing up the topic of race and racism to a young audience. Others are still working on building their skills when it comes to race-related discussions with children. The participants agreed that it is a challenging subject that can lead to tough discussions, but worth some potential discomfort.

Participants expressed some concerns about the community as it relates to this issue. The majority of residents are white and and many aren’t aware how uncomfortable people of color can feel living here. The participants felt that the community needs to do more work teaching white children and adults about white privilege and racial issues. However, they did feel some hope that progress can be made. Opportunities to address the issue of racism exist in the form of the Anti-Racism Coalition of Cazenovia, in teachers who are willing to change the curriculum so they’re not just teaching “the white side of things,” and in the willingness of the library to host community discussions and provide resources to help adults talk about racism with the children in their lives.

When asked what questions about the topic they wanted answers to, people mentioned learning more about racism and whiteness in general, to be better prepared to discuss the topic with others in the community, beyond just children. One participant shared that the more she learned, the more she realized how much she doesn’t know. Another described feeling downcast the more he learned, but affirmed that it’s important not to stop learning about racism just because the topic is uncomfortable. One woman discussed the importance of patience while waiting for community change. She felt her generation might not witness the majority of changes that she would like to see happen, hence the importance of educating the younger generations about racism.

In wrapping up the conversation, community members agreed that their discourse was a good start to tackling the issue of teaching children about racism. They discussed ideas – including book recommendations, and the possibility of a book group – for continuing to address the topic and thanked the library for providing the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with each other.

Contact Us

New Woodstock Free Library
2106 Main Street
P.O Box 340
New Woodstock, NY 13122
Phone: 315-662-3134
Fax: 315-662-3096