Talking to adopted children about racism


Though it is in my opinion that every child should be talked to about racism, it can be increasingly more important to talk to adopted children–particularly those who are in a transracial family–about racism, and to keep the conversation going throughout their teen and early adult years. Not only does it help children to be an ally, but to those of color, it can help them be more aware and safe. 

Though these are tough topics to have, they are important particularly around June as we celebrate Juneteenth and as hate crimes continue to rise in the United States. According to, the hate crime statistics provided by the FBI show an increase in race related hate crimes, which are “rooted in race, ethnicity or ancestry” and these remain the most common. There were 6,557 reported incidents in 2022 of which 3,421 were anti-black or African American. Racism can be a more natural topic to approach with children as our country celebrates Juneteenth on June 19th. In 2023, there were racially driven shootings over that weekend that killed at least twelve people. Education is one of the key tools to ensure that we eliminate hate based on race and ethnicity. Though Juneteenth has been an emancipation celebration for many, it became an official holiday in the United States in 2021. This holiday is to commemorate the official emancipation of all enslaved people in the United States. Though slavery ended in 1862 thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 when the last enslaved people were declared free in Texas. 

You can start off the conversation of racism by explaining not only Juneteenth to your children, but about slavery as well. You can find some great resources here. Though you may think that your child is too young to start these conversations, there really is no such thing as too young. (And as a parent to a child of color, I can ensure that racism starts early and there is no such thing as starting these conversations too young. My child heard her first racial slur at just two years old.)

PBS Kids have some wonderful resources that talk about racism from some of your children’s favorite characters like Daniel Tiger and the Sesame Street crew. You can watch these videos with your children and ask if they have any questions. This can be a great starting point. 

It is important to have these conversations often. It is common to start to talk about racism with children when they learn something at school or from the news and without any background knowledge, this can cause even more distress than it already does. This is also a good reminder to see what resources your library, schools, and what training your community offers. 

If your child is in his or her infancy, I can give you my advice and that is to read books often–then, you don’t have to have a new conversation, your child will understand the basics like they know their name. I love this list of books created by Powell’s Bookstore, which offers books for children from infant up to their teen years. As an adult reader, I have learned the most from Uche Blackstock’s Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine, which has taught me how to be a better advocate for my child and it is a book that I have bought for many. 

If you are an educator, you can find lesson plans here to help talk to your students about racism.  For the most up to date resources, please visit