Stevenson: Parents need to talk explicitly about race and injustice before America’s racial dehumanization will end

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

"I am concerned that too many in this nation are still ignorant, potentially willfully ignorant, as to why unrest is happening."

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“We need a racial literacy to decode the politics of racial threat in America. I am concerned that too many in this nation are still ignorant, potentially willfully ignorant, as to why unrest is happening. Yet after facing dehumanization, families of color fear this ignorance has turned to incompetence. The research on racial socialization suggests that we didn’t get here without practice – being taught how to hate. While the coronavirus pandemic has greatly infected black and brown communities over the last few months, systematic racism has ravaged their health, work, justice, and health outcomes for centuries.

“While parents of color worry daily their children will be racially profiled in schools and life, white parents don’t have to. Speaking up against injustice requires practice. If all parents could initiate more explicit racial conversations at home, we would see less ignorance and more racial competence on what to say and do when injustice happens. If parents can’t, then we can expect to witness more racial dehumanization for decades to come.”

- Howard Stevenson 


  • Howard Stevenson is a nationally sought expert on how racial stress and racial trauma can affect every stage of life.
  • A clinical psychologist, Stevenson’s work focuses on how educators, community leaders, and parents can emotionally resolve face-to-face racially stressful encounters that reflect racial profiling in public spaces, fuel social conflicts in neighborhoods, and undermine student emotional well-being and academic achievement in the classroom.
  • Stevenson’s guides for how parents can talk to children after racial incidents and how educators can confront hate speech at school have become important resources for families, policymakers, and journalists.

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