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.”

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