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Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America

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With a foreword by Tim Wise, Raising White Kids is for families, churches, educators, and communities who want to equip their children to be active and able participants in a society that is becoming one of the most racially diverse in the world while remaining full of racial tensions. For white people who are committed to equity and justice, living in a nation that remains racially unjust and deeply segregated creates unique conundrums.

These conundrums begin early in life and impact the racial development of white children in powerful ways. What can we do within our homes, communities and schools? Should we teach our children to be “colorblind”? Or, should we teach them to notice race? What roles do we want to equip them to play in addressing racism when they encounter it? What strategies will help our children learn to function well in a diverse nation?

Talking about race means naming the reality of white privilege and hierarchy. How do we talk about race honestly, then, without making our children feel bad about being white? Most importantly, how do we do any of this in age-appropriate ways?

While a great deal of public discussion exists in regard to the impact of race and racism on children of color, meaningful dialogue about and resources for understanding the impact of race on white children are woefully absent. Raising White Kids steps into that void.

320 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 2018

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About the author

Jennifer Harvey

4 books4 followers
Dr. Jennifer Harvey is a writer, speaker, and a professor of religion and ethics at Drake University. Her work focuses on racial justice and white anti-racism. Dr. Harvey's most recent books include Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America and Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 250 reviews
Profile Image for Steve.
133 reviews2 followers
December 19, 2018
Dr. Harvey left me with a love/hate relationship to her book.

She has a brilliant, insightful and wonderful analysis of many of the problems related to white parents and children negotiating a racist and yet multi-cultural landscape. Her thoughtful explanations of how most white parents approach racial issues is spot on - attempting to teach children to treat all persons equally assumes equality is the normative experience of all children. Rather than trying to be "color blind" and instead being color inquisitive is a great insight.

However, I often found her writing laborious and meandering. In reading, I found myself thinking "this would be a great 7 page article" rather than a 30 page chapter. It's not criminal, but there were points where I was forcing myself to keep reading.

That said, it's well worth the read. Of note, the hope and push for understanding over against despair and pontificating she advocates at the end is excellent. There's a lot to glean here.
Profile Image for Melinda Mitchell.
362 reviews6 followers
February 9, 2018
(also posted on my blog: http://rev-o-lution.org/2018/02/09/bo...)

I grew up in Alaska, and after a short time living in Anchorage in a diverse neighborhood, we moved to a rural area. I attended a school that was predominantly white, with a handful of Native Alaskan students and fewer than five black students. While I knew that racism was wrong, I didn’t understand that racism was still prevalent or that I had privilege. I learned in school that segregation was something that happened a long time ago and ended in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was taught as a day to remember someone who helped end segregation. Rosa Parks was presented as someone who was simply tired when she got on the bus that day. When conversations in our U.S. History and Government classes became intense over the rights of indigenous people, especially Native Alaskans, no one talked about racism. The overall conversation, I remember, was that what happened to Native Alaskans was in the past and we couldn’t change it. I was taught to be color-blind.

When I got to college, I remember taking an Introduction to Teaching course, and the instructor talked about how color-blindness didn’t work. My reaction was probably similar to those of my classmates at first, wondering what this conversation had to do with education. But she explained that when she didn’t see someone’s color, when she didn’t see someone as Black, she couldn’t see her privilege as white. She couldn’t see the advantages she had as a white person in our society when she tried to be color-blind. And it was in that moment that the scales fell off my eyes and I understood that I had white privilege.

Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Dr. Jennifer Harvey is a much-needed resource, not only for parents but for anyone who works with white youth. Dr. Harvey begins with the myth of color-blindness and the fact that children see race. We may say race is a construct, but that doesn’t mean constructs aren’t real and don’t have real consequences. Dr. Harvey insists that we must start having conversations explicitly with our children about racism. No one wants to have an uncomfortable conversation, and no parent wants to have a conversation that their child isn’t ready for. However, Dr. Harvey rightly points out that children are already confronted by race and difference at an early age. As many of us know, we often think that things are over our kids heads when they are actually listening to much of what we say. Perhaps not at the same level, but they hear what we say in front of them, and they also hear what is on the news and the media around them.

My child has experienced being the different one, from being one of only two white children in his class at Choctaw Head Start, to being the only white student in his class in first through third grade. But he also has experience of being different because he is developmentally disabled. He happens to be the child of tall parents (I’m 5’10” and my husband is 6’4”) so he is bigger than other children his age, which also adds a layer of misunderstanding about his development. I have had the experience of other children laughing, pointing, or asking questions about my child, such as, “Why doesn’t he talk?” “Why does he make loud noises?” “Why does he flap his hands like that?” and statements such as, “He scares me.” And my experience of parents of typically-developing children in these situations is often one of embarrassment, of moving their children along, and not responding to their children’s behavior in a way that invites them to ask questions, but instead seeks to quiet them and remove them from the situation.

Dr. Harvey’s work is focused on white families and racism, but I found her approach helpful in understanding that most parents are not prepared to talk with their children about disability, and most white parents are not prepared to talk with their children about racism, until an incident or event happens. Dr. Harvey’s approach encourages parents to ask questions to help clarify and unpack what their child has observed or experienced, rather than trying to quiet them, shame them for pointing out differences, or assume they don’t understand what they have observed.

One of the greatest insights in Raising White Kids that I think every parent, and caregiver, grandparent, teacher, or pastor, ought to know in working with white kids is for us white parents/leaders to manage our own anxiety. We are the ones who are often embarrassed, ashamed, and not sure what to say when a child says something awkward, or observes the behavior of someone else, or hears something on the news. It is our own anxiety that often shuts down conversation, that stops a valuable learning moment.

Raising White Kids establishes a framework to begin these conversations, by sharing specific questions and tools for parents and caregivers to use to help their children unpack and understand moments of racism. She also provides good insight and caution about seeking out space where white children can have the experience of being a demographic minority, as well as considering whether we are welcomed and invited to do so.

While my experience as a parent of a white child is different, nonetheless, when chatting with a Black parent of a disabled child on Twitter, I mentioned how I wanted to go to one of the Black Lives Matter protests but couldn’t because I would have to take my son with me. I was thinking of how difficult it would be for him to be in a crowd. She tweeted back that she would be afraid of her son being harmed or killed by the police. The fear of having a child who is unable to verbally respond to a police officer is much greater for Black parents of disabled children.

One of the greatest takeaways from Raising White Kids is the need for “creating communities of parent-peers.” We need to reach out, learn, and work with other parents in educating our children as well as educating other parents on race (and I would add disability). Dr. Harvey also encourages the creation of student groups at schools for racial justice similar to GSA’s (Gay-Straight Alliances). Recently, the Racial Justice Alliance student group at a school in Montpellier, Vermont, made the national news for raising a Black Lives Matter flag at a school where over eighty percent of the students are white. The work the school is doing to raise awareness of privilege and work for justice is the work of an entire community. The work of educating all of our children, but especially white children on racism and privilege, is work that we do not do alone.

I highly recommend Raising White Kids as a resource for all white parents, caregivers, and youth leaders who are open to exploring their own issues surrounding white privilege.

I received an advance reader copy of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Livia.
389 reviews64 followers
October 9, 2020
My Rating: 4 stars

Raising White Kids is exactly what the title says it is. It's a book full of guidance, tips, must-knows and must-dos when raising a white child in a world like today, where the world is corrupted everywhere by racism. This book tells one how to raise white children to be antiracists and stand up for justice every time they see injustice occurring.

My Breakdown:

- This was a really good book. Granted, I don't have kids, but I figured that I could learn a lot from this book because, technically, I still am a kid. Dr. Harvey put things in an easy-to-understand way that was easy to blow through. It included dialogues between children and parents and even in-depth explanations of why parents should/shouldn't do some things and musts in today's society.

- It was a really good read, and I really recommend it, especially if you're raising white kids. But whether you're raising white kids or not, it's still a very educational read that will help you wake up and change your ways.

---

TW: police brutality, racism
Profile Image for Lisa.
559 reviews20 followers
August 7, 2019
I was so well instructed by this book—realizing my need to ask questions of and listen to the kids in my life, rather than commenting dogmatically. I also realized I’m avoiding talking about race and therefore communicating something about it. There are lots of good tips as well as theoretical discussions. Vital reading.
Profile Image for Adam Shields.
1,635 reviews79 followers
January 19, 2018
Short Review: This is a very helpful book full of practical examples of real kids and real situations that come up as parents. This is a challenging book as a parent because no only do you need to help your own children learn how to be White in a racially unjust world, you can't really do that unless you also deal with your own issues around race. And there is a level of difficulty in helping someone else process something, even if you have come to a basic understanding of racial issues yourself.

The basic principles of the books are also true for many other issues. So reading this can help give ideas about how to parent boys in a sexist world, how to parent abled kids in a world that is not equal for differently abled kids, etc.

The part that I think this book really does better than some other books around whiteness I have read is the discussion about exposure to diversity, without giving White kids a place to see their identity can actually backfire. This is published by a Christian publishers, but it is not an explicitly Christian book. I think especially the section about giving place for white kids could be better if explicitly discussed as Christian. But that is not a negative to the book as a whole.

My full review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/raising-white-kids/
Profile Image for Emily Dia.
168 reviews5 followers
January 18, 2019
This is a compelling and practical look at talking about racial identity and social consciousness with all children. It pairs nicely with Seen on Radio’s “Seeing White” podcast series.
Profile Image for Jonathan Hiskes.
512 reviews
June 8, 2021
An eloquent, important guide to raising race-conscious white children in America. Harvey shows why 'color blindness' fails and why celebrating diversity, while good, doesn't do enough to prepare kids to acknowledge the reality of racial injustice in America. She helpfully names a lot of things I've sensed but couldn't articulate until now--that kids are very good at picking up on adult discomfort and taboos around talking about race, that there is no "too young" to begin teaching kids to name and understand important realities like racism, and that sheltering white kids for too long from racism leaves them unprepared for the world they must navigate. There are obviously no easy fixes, but Harvey offers helpful concrete discussions of things like attending protests with kids, the helpful role of diverse books and media, talking about news events, and the importance of specificity in naming whiteness, racism, and the need for courageous allyship. I'd love to discuss this book with other parents.
Profile Image for Shannon.
845 reviews
September 24, 2019
This was helpful. There were a few sections I found really powerful, and they gave me a lot of food for thought. Especially the how-to sections, like what do you do when your six year old white daughter comes home from a class room discussion of civil rights and says "I'm so glad I'm white!" /headdesk. Like what is the right time to dig into these issues? Also her discussion of how black/white friendships fall apart by middle school and why. And then the problems that white kids experience in diverse schools where other cultures are celebrated but white kids know their own position is problematic and the resentment that can brew when kids are still developing critical thinking.

Other times, I was skimming as it veered toward preachy or overwritten, but on the whole, this is a helpful guide to anti-racist parenting.
Profile Image for Martha.
Author 4 books18 followers
February 24, 2018
In her book, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America (Abingdon), Jennifer Harvey offers practical parenting advice designed to help parents of white kids enter bravely into conversation with their children about systemic, structural, and individual racism. Harvey is a professor at Drake University and the author of Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation (Wm. B. Eerdmans).

When I was growing up in 1960s and '70s Virginia, my moderate-to-liberal parents did all they could to shield me from the racism around us. They did not differentiate in the respect that should be shown to adults of any race, or use derogatory language of any kind about People of Color. Yet we lived our lives in white social and professional circles. Most of the Black people I knew when I was small were domestic workers; despite my parents' efforts, I knew these adults were different if only because I was not instructed to call our beloved-by-me housekeeper "Miss Catherine," or the kindly janitor at church, "Mr. Henderson." At the private schools I attended later, I rarely had more than one Black classmate. Many conventional ideas supported by structural and systemic racism which were not promoted at home got into my head through the culture, directly or indirectly. Overt racism such as "jokes" I knew to find offensive, but stereotypes seeped in, and our lack of conversation at home about the reality of racism left me to figure things out alone.

I moved from Virginia to very white Maine as a young mom and raised three children there - born in 1986, 1990, and 1995. I would have been very glad to have Jennifer Harvey's book as a conversation-starter with other parents twenty+ years ago, when I had only a dawning sense of the need to be race-conscious myself. For me it was grounded in my faith, which is not a viewfinder used in this particular book. My thought process circa 1993 would have been something like: "If I believe that God loves all people, and I do, then it naturally follows that all people have equal value in God's eyes, and if we don't value all people equally, we need to get to work on it." That line of thinking became fleshed out as I attended seminary beginning in 1994, interacting with classmates from varied backgrounds, including a Black classmate who also grew up in my Virginia hometown. The unfolding realization for me that we didn't know the same places and people because of the virtual apartheid we lived in as children caused a radical change in my understanding.

Of course it came as no surprise to my classmate.

As my children made their way through school, we saw Portland become a tiny bit more diverse. The existing Southeast Asian community grew the old-fashioned way, and their children entered school as English speakers. As my two younger children started school, Portland welcomed waves of refugees from African, Eastern European, and Arab countries. I liked the diversity of the schools they attended, but wondered why my sons never seemed to make friends with - or even have classes with - kids who were not white. When the topic of race came up, I tried to respond in ways that were inquisitive and developmentally appropriate, but I had no tools other than a style of parenting that took that approach in other areas.

Harvey's book is necessary and timely at the same time our conversation is far too late and still too white-centered. I understand the need to write for white parents who are, in 2018, where I was in 1993. They may have a sense that things should be different, but not know where to start, and not be aware of how influenced they are by systemic, structural, and individual racism in the national atmosphere. Harvey makes a convincing case that the kind of color-blindness my parents tried to teach fifty years ago still will not accomplish the goal of true anti-racism work. Harvey is gentle (some other reviewers think *too* gentle) in naming the "vexed" condition of being white in the midst of a movement to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. Any concept defined in relationship to whiteness will still center whiteness.

I appreciate the content of Harvey's book and can recommend it to pastors and parents who seek a starting point for conversations about race with their children and with each other. This is beginning level race-consciousness with clear explanations that are repeated so they will sink in deep. She relies on the good work done by others and shares many resources that will be helpful. I think the chapters are a little long for our short attention spans, but that is partly a function of the repeated emphasis on the important points of each chapter. Her writing is accessible, and her personal stories make it clear that she is in the midst of both the parenting work she describes and the resistance work we so desperately need.

The work before us is clear. It's important to talk with our white children in developmentally appropriate ways about the realities of our nation's history and our current times. Pretending everyone is the same will not bring us to a new tomorrow.  Celebration of diversity is problematic, when "diverse" simply means "not white." As parents and people of faith, white people need to search not just our hearts and minds but our calendars and our "friends" lists, because if we talk to our children about racism but we are only in relationship with other white people, we are not moving ourselves or them toward a more race-conscious society.
Profile Image for Pondie.
169 reviews
March 15, 2021
Some key things I will remember from this book: kids pick up more than we give them credit and it's better to say something than nothing at all. I had high expectations for this book and unfortunately it did not meet me at these expectations. I'm glad I read it, but I think I wanted more. Also, I listened to most of this book and I could not STAND the reader of this book. So that was super disappointing.
Profile Image for Seana.
133 reviews1 follower
June 11, 2020
This was a very straightforward book- making it clear that you need to talk authentically with your children about race early and often. One aspect I hadn’t really thought about is helping our kids interpret the meaning of racial differences in order that they do not absorb the negative messages about race and people of color that pervade our society.
Profile Image for Elsa.
89 reviews8 followers
February 23, 2018
All of the parenting books I've read are emphatic on this point: I need to have a plan. I need to be prepared with the right gear and the right attitude. It is all up to me as the parent.

Harvey quickly challenges this assumption and invites parents to partner with their kids. She puts it simply with the claim that challenging the forces of white supremacy can be as simple as "listen[ing] carefully and follow[ing] our children's lead." She encourages exploration and asking questions together rather than taking on some charge to be the expert who knows everything.

Maybe that works for other parents, but it never worked for me. It's not how I ever approached teaching whether it was with young children or mature adults in the churches I've served. I always engaged the topic -- no matter what it was -- with questions.

Raising White Kids invites me to affirm this curiosity in both my parenting and in my justice-seeking. It is a balm to my soul and gets me even more excited about this work. It emboldens me. It makes me feel like this is possible. I can do this.

Harvey encourages questions. She poses examples. She invites a conversation and I so can see that this would be an amazing discussion piece for a moms group, a parenting potluck or a study for Sunday School teachers.
Profile Image for Faith.
628 reviews3 followers
March 17, 2021
I know the privileges I have, and I also know how I was unaware of the realities in our world, only brought to light in my adult years. I am mindful of wanting to be an advocate for anyone who feels they are on the margins, and I learned how important it is to have frank conversations with children so they don't have to navigate this world guessing at my thoughts and feelings.

All the same, though, I don't always feel equipped to go deep, so I was grateful to hear a recommendation for this book. In some regards it contained information I was already familiar with, but there were specific features I appreciated.

Foremost, I valued the scenarios that were highlighted in each chapter. Harvey would use them to frame the chapter's focus, and since she doesn't immediately share how one could respond, it allowed me to undergo self-reflection to consider how I would navigate such a situation with my girls.

Additionally, I liked the summaries that closed out every chapter, providing a simple outline of what had been discussed.
Profile Image for John Mehrman.
15 reviews
August 8, 2019
The message the author captures regarding lingering racial inequalities, the harm is does to our country, and how to raise kids to equip them with the tools to address the problems is great. I just felt is was too long and preachy at times. You could read the first chapter, the takeaways at the end of the other chapters, and the conclusion and get almost all of her arguments. Some books would be better articles/papers.
Profile Image for Sarah.
361 reviews26 followers
August 17, 2018
I so appreciated Harvey's perspective and her use of specific examples in her own life and the lives of her friends and family. It helped me push past the idea that I need to always know the right thing and to engage in these conversations with my kids even as I am learning and growing too. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Caitlyn.
285 reviews4 followers
April 26, 2020
Full disclaimer: I don't have kids. But I still found this book useful in introducing tools I can use to better equip myself for discussing race and racism publicly, as well as how to be an ally. Jennifer Harvey is an immensely talented writer and it's clear that racial and social justice is her life's passion.
Profile Image for Silk.
88 reviews12 followers
December 5, 2019
From my offspring's school assignment;

In the United States, there is constant and current evidence of racism as a profound challenge for the people who live it, and for the people who wish to improve racial equity; from systemic and structural racism, down to the individual prejudices that permeate our society. Activists of all colors agree that there need to be effective tools to help win this battle. Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America, by Jennifer Harvey, attempts to equip parents and children with a racial mindfulness, so that they cancontribure to a more just future for all Americans.

Dr. Harvey is a professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, whose classes focus on religion, ethics, race, gender, activism, politics, spirituality and social justice. Her current book is a non-fiction “manual” of sorts; helping to provide a blueprint for instruction on the why and how of becoming sensitive to racial injustice and inequity for privileged members of society. It is a study in religion, race relations and civil rights, but is mostly a practical guide for families, educators, church leaders, and any community workers who interact with children and young adults.

If one respects the work of anti-racism activist Tim Wise, they will appreciate his forward which defines the problem, then helps build an understanding of how the advice and tips in the book are particularly helpful in growing a generation of mindful children who can be instilled with a sense of justice and a proactive mentality without the paralyzing guilt that often accompanies today’s dialogues on race.

Dr. Harvey does not shy away from the uncomfortable topics one must necessarily encounter when discussing race relations and history in this country, but has a gentle enough approach in her suggestions that one is not left feeling as though they were struck with a hammer, or that all hope is lost against the never ending swelling tide of injustice.

Rather than mere academic conclusions showing how racism exists, and why it needs to be addressed, Harvey breaks down this ideology into very interpersonal methodology that is relatable. She suggests starting dialogues very early, and that parents may be surprised at how much their children have already picked up on in matters of race. She provides conversation starters and guidance for discussions.

It is striking how much space she gives to helping children develop a healthy self identity, yet developing also an awareness of racial injustice and how to fight it, how to make a positive difference without fearing missteps or being overly weighed down with the responsibility of hundreds of years of history of racial oppression.

The book is filled with helpful examples of conversations that she’s had with her own children and other parents who seek counsel. It’s clear that active dialogue is necessary to achieve any results; children will not become antiracists just by the mere lack of promotion of racism in one’s own household. The “colorblind” approach touted in recent history by political leaders is actually harmful, in that it’s obvious that race exists, and by pretending that color doesn’t matter, denies the experiences of the harms still ongoing in the war against racism.

Specific instruction in the language of bigotry, and how to counteract it, is discussed in great detail. Throughout the book, “conceptual clarity” is emphasized and explained. Words to use when presented with social situations are explored.Then specific engagement strategies are examined.

The author mentions explicit opportunities for exposing children to diverse populations, and how important that is. Some suggestions include grocery shopping in a neighborhood outside of one’s own should one live in a non diverse area; also considering school tours before moving into a new district. Attending a church less conveniently located in exchange for a racially sensitive environment, substituting for at least some regular church services if not all is one practical suggestion. Especially important is consideration of participation in rallies and other regular events, perhaps such as attending a local chapter of NAACP or similar diversity promoting social organization with your children, when maturity allows.

Future parents may not realize how worthy a read this is in the present, but even some of the reviews of this book mention how some individuals wished they had had the opportunity of the “schooling” that is accessed in these pages in their younger years. One Black activist peer, Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, a professor at another University, in her review, mentions finally having a tool to which to refer “white allies” who frequently ask questions such as: “How can I be a good ally? What should I do to ensure I’m raising my children right?”

I consider this to be a very important work, even though I am not yet a parent, nor may I ever be. But as an option among several books on this general topic, I chose this specifically because of the interpersonal aspect of it. I believe that for the vast majority of us, especially in our younger years, what our parents think, and what they think of us, shapes us profoundly. There isn’t a more important educator in a young child’s life, by commission or omission, than their parents. And the agenda of social justice really starts in the home. It is easy to think that if racism is not specifically promoted, then social justice must, by accident or default, must be the message that is received. But the powerful toxicity of racial injustice, which is committed both overtly and subliminally in all kinds of ways, everyday, must be directly counteracted, and this book is a “how to” manual on how to do just that, and do it gently.

There are sections that I don’t necessary understand well, and need to continue to study, but it is a book worthwhile for anyone who wants to see how they can contribute to a more just world, even if they don’t realize that they “don’t have a dog in the fight.” I am still a young person with a lot of learning to pursue, and that may need to include remediation on social justice issues. In the meantime, I will feel more confidence to try to do what I can on an individual basis. Recently, a LGBTQ activist wrote an opinion regarding the microstep process of how real change is achieved, and this thought struck me, and has kept with me: “Once a straight person meets someone who is LGBTQ, they are overwhelmingly more likely to be pro-LGBTQ equal rights.” I believe the same philosophy can be generalized to the fight for racial equity, and Dr. Harvey’s book is a perfect place to start in learning how to employ interpersonal microstep achievement in racial social justice.


Profile Image for Meg.
607 reviews
July 30, 2020
I'm so glad I read this book and met with two other parents, who are also raising white kids in the same urban city as me, to discuss the ideas presented and brainstorm how we can apply the ideas to our own parenting. With books like this one, there is a call to action and I highly recommended finding someone to keep you accountable to those actions moving through and forward from reading this book. The author repeatedly states that this is not the definitive answer to raising our kids in an unjust America - she even gives lots of other resources as well as cites other books. But I found this book to be extremely helpful with the ideas that were presented. It's hard to remain complacent after reading a book like this.

The sections that struck me the most were...

Chapter 3 - in which she sites Janet Helms and defines the six stages of white identity. This was new to me and so helpful in putting words to the feelings I have gone through as I come to understand my own identity. The chapter is intended for helping us to guide our kids/students through the stages but I found it applicable to myself as well!

Chapter 7 - in which the author talks about the public school system. That section empowered me as both a parent and teacher.

I highly recommend this book for parents of white kids, although teachers and parents of all kids could gain some insight and wisdom from reading this book as well!
Profile Image for Dehlia.
246 reviews1 follower
June 15, 2020
There are many great discussion points, conversation starters (and probing questions for continuing the dialogue with your kids) packed into this readable book. I especially appreciated some of the examples Dr. Harvey uses in detailing how to go about anti-racist/racial awareness parenting - i.e. comparing to moments of sexism and connecting various forms of oppression and inequities. She digs in on bringing kids to protests and having them truly FEEL the power and energy of race in their bodies. I’ve observed my own daughters “get it” viscerally at (peaceful) protests and it’s difficult to replicate in any deep conversation. (Note: pandemic has trumped my need for them to participate in public/large group protests at the moment.)

We have oh so much work to do, so much. But this is a book I can turn back to and look for guidance as I navigate raising my kids (and educating my students) to be change makers, to identify their white body privilege and to use the power and voice that affords them to speak out, act boldly and be advocates and allies for Black people and other oppressed communities.

Key takeaway for all of us white folx getting all energized and engaged at the moment:

True change requires choices that are
- informed
- intentional
- specific
AND critically, sustained over time.
Profile Image for Jules.
682 reviews11 followers
July 13, 2021
It's deeply necessary we let our children's hearts get broken a bit if they are going to remain able to recognize the humanity of those fellow humans whose lives are at stake in the system we live in.

This book provided some concrete strategies and language, but above all reinforcement for having the messy conversations and taking the murky actions necessary to be an anti-racist parent to white children. While I won't get this perfect, I think it made me better prepared to raise the subject with my children, to talk about race in plain language so it renders it less of a taboo topic, and to look for ways our whole family can be allies and supporters of BIPOC -- or really any of those in America who are systemically and culturally disadvantaged by difference.

It's a journey but books like this remind me that steps forward are necessary and possible.
Profile Image for Nathaniel Smith.
177 reviews4 followers
April 18, 2021
I finally finished this book! I started it with another book group in the fall, and while that group has been quiet for a while, I continued reading it in bits and pieces. I found it to be well-written, insightful, and very practical. I have a white daughter who is almost two years old, and the subject matter of this book feels extremely relevant to questions I’ve been asking myself about how to “raise” her. Because of this book, there are already some small actions I’ve been taking in how I identify racial differences in her books, for example, and I’ve started trying to imagine conversations we might have when she starts talking. I think this book could be interesting for anyone to read, but especially anyone who wants to help white children in their lives engage with racism.
Profile Image for Tawnee Walling.
35 reviews
September 17, 2018
Practical, inspiring, compassionate and written in an engaging and accessible manner. Jennifer Harvey gives examples and suggestions from her own life that provide space for parents to explore their own fears/questions/confusion so they can get to a place of action. She provides tools and strategies to engage with our children about race and racism in age appropriate ways. This is a must read for parents of white children who are willing to have hard conversations and want to live out anti-racism in their parenting.
Profile Image for Steph Scholl.
23 reviews
October 15, 2019
Required reading for anyone who works with white children, is raising white children or thinking of becoming a parent to a white child.

“It’s deeply necessary we let our children’s hearts get broken a bit if they are going to remain able to recognize the humanity of their fellow humans whose lives are at stake in the system we live in. It’s necessary if they are going to grow any rooted sense of themselves as part of a larger, multiracial community of people to whom they are committed, and with and for whom they must speak out and act.” P. 257
21 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2021
This book is a must read for parents of white children. I learned so much and have thought so deeply about parenting while reflecting on this book, particularly about raising purposefully and adamantly antiracist children. The book also details how to handle some of the oftentimes uncomfortable or difficult conversations parents need to have with children, particularly about white guilt, white privilege, police brutality of Black Americans, and the racist and unbalanced history of our nation.

Not the kind of book to read over a day or two, so give yourself time to read it, absorb what the author is saying, and reflect.
112 reviews
September 18, 2018
This past year I have been reading a bunch of books, both non-fiction and fiction, on the topic of race, race relations, and racism. I really enjoyed this book as it helped walk me through a lot of the information that I have been processing and converted it into how I can help my own kids navigate their awakening to their whiteness, how the fit in the racial landscape, and how to become anti-racists. I highly recommend this book.
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132 reviews2 followers
July 10, 2019
This needs to be required reading for all white parents of white children, as well as white teachers. We can work together to change the systems and attitudes in place, and we must! I’m finishing this book with hope, but also aware of how much more I still have to learn.
Profile Image for Laura.
139 reviews
August 23, 2019
A MUST-READ for all those that are parenting the next generation of white citizens! This book explains the importance of not only acknowledging race and culture but the absolute need for our white children to fully know and understand their place in standing up against racism and unfair treatment of marginalized groups in this country and world. It is an excellent, thought-provoking read!
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190 reviews
February 27, 2020
Learning how to speak openly about race is hard, and learning how to do so with our kids is even harder, so in terms of content, this book was/is important and helpful. Unfortunately, it’s not very well written, too preachy, and, like most books of this type, twice as long as it needed to be. Still, it provides good guidance if you stick with it. It has already changed our conversations and understanding for the better.
It does assume that the reader is already convinced that racial injustice is a grave problem in our country. If you are on the fence about that or want to learn more, I highly recommend listening to season 2 of the podcast Scene on Radio, entitled “Seeing White”—and do it before reading this book.
278 reviews7 followers
June 16, 2018
In depth context for each idea makes for slow reading. Will go back to it as my child ages and interacts with the world more. Certainly helped frame the issues for me. Worthwhile reading for any white parent.
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