On Sunday’s episode of Melissa Harris Perry, a panel of mothers joined the show to talk about their experiences with parenting across racial lines. As difficult as it is to raise children in America and to ensure that they have access to what they need to grow into healthy, successful adults, when your child is of a different race, extra challenges cannot be avoided. As Harris-Perry and Rachel Garlinghouse, a mother of three African-American children, discussed, simply caring for and styling your child’s hair starts out foreign and difficult. And, as Garlinghouse described, strangers feel perfectly at ease walking up to and touching her children out of curiosity.
The full panel, Garlinghouse, Tracy Robinson-Wood, Rachel Noerdlinger, and Shanna Smith, tried to answer the question: How do you adequately support your child to stand up against such inappropriate treatment when you don’t have those experiences? Recognizing your limitations and being open to communication are both essential to developing, and teaching, what Tracy Robinson-Wood, a professor at Northeastern University called “racial literacy.”