ROCHESTER, Minn. - It's been said children are sponges - soaking up every verbal and non-verbal interaction. Dr. Sarah J. Atunah-Jay - a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic - says children see racial differences as early as 6 months and can internalize racial bias at the age of 2.
"This really is why it's so important for families to think about how to raise children in an anti-racist way," Atunah-Jay said.
Quadra Mahamud is raising 7 Somali-American kids. She wants a world where she and her family are respected.
"They watch us when we have our hijab or cover, they watching us like different people." Mahamud said. "We are human, we are same human."
Atunah-Jay suggests one way to raise respectful children is to be intentional about the books, television programs and movies they consume.
"Picking out characters that have racial diversity, but not only that have racial diversity but in particular that center characters who are people from historically discriminated against groups," Atunah-Jay said.
Another way is to place our children in diverse settings.
"Kids who are in diverse settings are more empathetic and do well academically," Atunah-Jay said. "That's one reason why people should care because it's actually good for their own kid."
Changing the world requires work at home - work that's difficult.
"A lot of white folks haven't had these conversations before," Atunah-Jay said. "You might actually be uncomfortable when you're having these conversations."
But it's work that's needed.
"Raising my children, I always tell them, the color doesn't matter," Atunah-Jay said.
One book she recommends parents read to their children is Joshua By the Sea.