Beginning conversations about race, racial privilege, and discrimination are often difficult when children are young. This doesn’t mean however, that things should be simply swept under the carpet. Teaching children to recognise privilege, identifying social and racial injustices, noting when an individual has benefitted from a race-based privilege will help go a long way to making the world more inclusive, fairer and a more welcoming place for everyone regardless of skin colour.
Children’s movies are a great way to start introducing the idea and concept of inherent and inherited differences. Recognising that almost everyone has inherent prejudices and learning to question why we choose to believe what we’ve been told, even though sometimes we know it’s simply not true.
These 5 Kids Movies are beautiful stories with wonderful animations and colours yet also address the all important issues of racism and discrimination.
1. Zootopia (Zootropolis UK) (2016)
Zootropolis tells the story of the young, impressionable Judy Hopps, who is the first rabbit to join the police force in the metropolis. Scorned and shunned by other members of the police force for her species, size and potentially her gender, Judy does everything she can to prove her worth.
When a mysterious case presents itself, Judy finds herself having to work with the wily fox Nick Wilde. Learning to look beyond first impressions and being able to question one’s own assumptions and presumptions is a big lesson in this colourful, entertaining animation.
2. Trolls World Tour (2020)
It turns out that there is not just one tribe of Trolls but actually six different lands each devoted to a different kind of music. However Queen Barb and King Trash of the rock tribe will do everything in their power to silence and destroy all other types of music. Poppy and Branch realise it is up to them to unite all trolls and save the diversity of their beautiful music.
3. Hotel Transylvania 1 (2012)
A classic ‘us vs. them’ story, Hotel Transylvania tells the story of Count Dracula, his hodge-podge tribe of various ghosts, ghouls and zombies and his beloved daughter Mavis. Mavis falls in love with a human boy Johnathan, who accidentally stumbles upon their Translyvanian castle resort.
In the ultimate love story told to his daughter, Dracula describes his love for his late wife, Mavis’ mother who made him ‘zing‘. Despite his protests and many attempts to foil their love, Mavis believes that Johnathan is her one true ‘zing’. Dracula finds it very hard to see beyond the fact that Johnathan is human.
4. Finding Dory (2016)
Dory the extremely friendly but very forgetful blue tang, whom we first met in Finding Nemo, embarks on her own journey to find and reunite with her parents. Her forgetfulness is streaks by moments of complete clarity when she remembers snippets of her parents. And she yo-yos between panic and concern that they are still looking for her, and complete calm when she forgets and is perfectly fine.
The underlying theme here is one of love, acceptance and family. There is the embracing of what it means to be accepted despite looking and being different.
How to begin discussing racism and discrimination
Do take your child’s lead generally, but you can help the discussion and conversation along by asking leading questions. Here are a few ideas for slightly older children, but do feel free to adapt and use accordingly. If you have more suggestions, please do leave your thoughts in the Comment section below.
1. Discuss the gist of the story. Point out prejudice, unfairness and injustices.
2. Do you think ‘a named character’ is being/was treated unfairly or differently?
3. Why do you think ‘named character’ was being treated that way?
3. Discuss concepts of prejudice, preconceptions, assumptions.
4. Discuss inherent and inherited points of view.
5. Explain how and why we sometimes need to challenge them.
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