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How Parents Can Help Prepare Students of Color to Respond to Racism at School

If you’re the parent of a minority student, chances are your child at some point has been teased or taunted about his/her race or ethnicity. This can take the form of joking about stereotypes or even racist putdowns that attribute traits to certain groups.

So what can parents and educators do to help students of color deal with racism and prejudice?

First, ignoring it is not an option. Bullying, teasing, physical attacks, and other forms of aggression are an unfortunate reality for many students throughout their K-12 years, but especially middle and high schoolers. Racial or ethnic jokes, insults, slights and other micro aggressions can be damaging and make victims socially anxious.

What's more, teachers - many of whom are white - often are ill-equipped to handle sensitive, complex discussions about privilege, power, and oppression. This includes conversations on race and racism, says Joseph Feola, a school counselor at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and an adjunct professor at Counseling @NYU.

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