Talk About Race

Tulane University researcher awarded $3.4 million NIH grant to help families have ‘Color Brave’ discussions against racism.

Having “the talk” is a task shouldered by millions of Black families each year as parents try to protect their children from racist experiences, including the possibility of being unfairly profiled by the police. What would happen if critical and honest conversations about race, racism and eliminating discrimination were also a rite of passage for White parents and their children?

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $3.4 million grant to a Tulane University researcher to find out.

David Chae, director of the Society, Health and Racial Equity Lab and associate dean for research at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, was awarded a grant to develop an app to guide parents and children from kindergarten up to second grade in having “Color Brave” (as opposed to colorblind) conversations.

Around 70 to 80 percent of White parents think that these conversations are important — and that they should have them — but many don’t know how to talk to their kids about complex issues involving race, Chae said. 

Children’s attitudes about race and racism can be shaped early by multiple factors, including what they see reflected in TV and other media, witnessing how members of racial groups are treated in various settings, and through explicit instruction, both formal and informal education practices. Chae hopes the app can help parents overcome their reluctance to have difficult conversations about race and enable their children to resist internalizing racist societal views.