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Raising Anti-Racist Kids in 2020: The top 12 words you need to know

father and son read book

When it comes to talking about race, some people—including kids—have been doing it for as long as they can remember, and some are new to the conversation. No matter where your family falls on that spectrum, one thing’s for sure: There’s a unique vocabulary around the topic of race.  

Finding the right words 
Families like yours are looking for good ways to talk with kids about race, and the first step for everyone, is understanding what all the words mean! If you or your kids don’t know some of the words, and the (sometimes) subtle differences between them, it can leave everyone feeling confused, unprepared, or reluctant to have conversations in the first place.  

So, we’ve put together a list of a few key words and their meanings to give you and your family confidence to have conversations about race. And, understanding these terms will help you talk with your kids about these issues in the same way they’re being talked about in our centers.  

12 Terms your family needs to know to have conversations about race 
Get familiar with the words most often used around the topic of race, so you can feel confident using common language to share thoughts, ideas, and information! 

1. Activism: Efforts to raise awareness and create social, economic, political, or environmental change. 
2. Bias: When a person prefers one thing over another without giving an equal chance to different ideas. 
3. Ethnicity: Cultural characteristics that connect certain groups. 
4. Equality: Everyone is treated, measured, esteemed, and valued the same. 
5. Equity: Giving everyone what they need to be successful, even if those things are not the same. 
6. Inclusion: The state of being included, valued, and respected for who you are, no matter what abilities you may or may not have.  
7. Justice: Upholding what is moral, equitable, and fair for all people. 
8. Prejudice: Judging or having an opinion about someone before you know them. 
9. Privilege: A right, advantage, or immunity only granted or available to a particular person or group. 
10. Race: A group of people who have common physical traits such as skin color, hair texture, and facial features. 
11. Racism: A belief that certain races of people are, by birth and nature, superior to—or better than—others. 
12. Stereotype: An idea or belief that many people have about a particular group of people (or thing), often rooted in prejudice. 

2 Creative ways to talk about race with your kids  
Want to practice using these words correctly in your everyday conversations with your family and others? Start at home with these two creative vocabulary challenges: 

Word of the Week 
Pick a “word of the week” to help your whole family define each key word, practice using it with family members throughout the week, and get comfortable incorporating it into everyday conversations with anyone, anytime!  

This vs. That 
After you’ve been practicing your vocab words, pick two often misunderstood terms, and see if you can articulate their distinction. For example, what is the difference between race and ethnicity? How is prejudice different from bias? Can you think of an example that illustrates the difference between equity and equality? 

See how we’re incorporating anti-bias education at KinderCare 
We recognize that as this historic moment for racial justice has spread across the country, parents are looking for the language to speak with children about what in the world is going on! We incorporate anti-bias curriculum into our everyday learning to address this need, because we know that education gives us an easy, developmentally appropriate way to introduce young children to concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion and the language to use. Learn more about our anti-bias curriculum, developed by expert educators