How do I explain racism to my white 4 year old?

Last night D and I were driving home from family dinner and happened to drive past a group of people holding up signs protesting racism. One of the signs asked drivers to honk if they were against racism.

I laid on the horn.

D asked me why I honked.

I told him it was in support of the people protesting racism.

Then my four year old white, American male child asked me what racism was.

How do I explain to my son that some people are at a disadvantage in the world based solely on the color of their skin… something they have ZERO control over?

That because he was born white, things are going to be easier for him.

Things are going to be easier because he’s male instead of female?

How do I explain racism and ass backward thinking to a FOUR YEAR OLD?!?!?


I told him that some people think less of other people just because they’re a different color from what they are. That everyone deserves to be treated the same regardless of what they look like. That there are people in all different colors of the rainbow and we all deserve to be treated the same.

We crossed over a railroad track and my train-loving kid was distracted.

There is a part of me that wants to talk to him more about this. To explain that everyone deserves to be treated with love and respect… regardless of the color of their skin, gender, religion and sexual orientation.

There is another cowardly part of me that just wants to let it go. To let my child continue to live in ignorant bliss.

But that’s letting him be ignorant. Part of my job as his parent is to show him how people are special and deserve to be treated as such. To teach him in word and action. To help even the playing field.

Even if it is a 2 minute car conversation.