Leaning in to Conversations about Race and Racism

Leaning in to Conversations about Race and Racism

The events taking place around the United States have pushed the issue of race and racism back into the forefront for all of us. As Dr. Terwin shared in his message to the community, Wellington is a school where courageous conversations are encouraged. Our hope is that the skills students are learning from us that help them lean into feelings of discomfort when discussing difficult topics in school will be utilized beyond our campus. This includes having courageous conversations at home with you. Conversations about race and racism can be challenging, and you might not feel prepared to engage with your child about them. The fear of saying the “wrong thing” can be paralyzing. Here are some steps to help you lean into your discomfort:

  1. Listen: Remember Dr. Lisa Damour’s first step on managing a meltdown? It is an essential step when having a conversation about difficult topics. Try to listen without interruption or judgement.
  2. Learn: When it comes to race, what do you know? Whether you are just beginning to lean into this topic, or are well-versed, there is always room for growth. The following links can help you increase your awareness, knowledge, and skills:
    1. Anti-Racism Resources
    2. Talking About Race
    3. Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources
    4. Racism Interruptions 
  3. Dialogue Instead of Lecture/Debate: You might discover that your child's thoughts and feelings differ from your own. Work to find a common understanding with them instead of attempting to prove them wrong. Dialogue requires empathy, acknowledgement of perspective, and non-dismissive language. 
  4. Support Action Steps:  If your child expresses a desire to take action, extend an offer to help and guide, not direct. Allow them to flesh out their ideas and identify what steps they can take. Expressing your concerns about their action step ideas are important to share, but they should not be the starting point in this part of the conversation. 
  5. When You Make a Mistake, Keep Going: Worrying about saying the “wrong” thing prevents a conversation about race/racism from moving forward. When you discover you’ve made a mistake (and it will happen), focus on how and acknowledge the impact instead of your intention. More than anything, stay engaged.

As you navigate conversations and field questions from your children in the days to come, please know that we're here to support you and your family. We stand ready to answer questions, share resources, and offer encouragement wherever we can.

Danielle Gibbs, lower school counselor

Emily Laabs, middle school counselor

Craig Jones, upper school counselor