Talking about race and racism

Explore these resources to support conversations about race and racism, and understand what it means to be anti-racist

Black lives matter

Our Chief Guide, CEO and Chair of Trustees have outlined Girlguiding’s commitment to standing together as a movement against racism. Being inclusive is a core value of Girlguiding and racism has no part in our community or society.

As a movement, we recognise that it isn’t enough to not be racist, we must be actively anti-racist. We support and stand in solidarity with our Black girls, Black volunteers, Black staff, Black parents and carers, and all Black people.

At Girlguiding, we all have a role to play in being actively anti-racist and living out our values of being inclusive and caring for others. To uphold this commitment, we must listen, learn and amplify the experiences of Black people, within Girlguiding and beyond.

The following resources are designed to support conversations about race and racism, and to increase your understanding of what it means to be actively anti-racist. From books to videos to programme resources, we hope there’ll be something in here for everyone.

Black History Month

October is Black History Month in the UK, where people come together to recognise and celebrate the stories of amazing Black people who’ve shaped the country. These stories may have been forgotten about, never told or erased because of racism. Throughout the month, people take the time to find out stories of Black people who’ve made a difference to the country, and celebrate Black culture and history.

We’ve created unit meeting activities for each section to explore and celebrate Black History Month this year and beyond.

If you’re unable to fit these activities into your term plan this year for October, that’s no problem, they’re here to stay and we encourage all units to take part in these activities at some point throughout their guiding year.

  • Hidden histories: Rainbows – This unit meeting activity is an interactive story which explores the life and achievements of Mary Seacole.
  • Out of sight stories: Brownies - This unit meeting activity is an interactive story which explores the life and achievements of Mary Seacole.
  • Celebrating sheroes: Guides – This unit meeting activity explores the life of Connie Mark, and celebrates the stories of amazing Black women that inspire your Guides.
  • Unsung stories: Rangers – This unit meeting activity explores the life of Connie Mark, and celebrates the stories of amazing Black women that inspire your Rangers.

Talking to children and young people

It’s never too early to talk about race. Babies notice physical differences, including skin colour, from as early as 6 months. Studies have shown that by age 5, children can show signs of racial bias, such as treating people more favourably than others based on the colour of their skin.

We know these conversations might sometimes feel challenging and uncomfortable. But by starting these conversations early, we can prepare young people for working towards racial justice and racial equality.

Resources from our programme

Volunteers might find these programme activities useful for supporting conversations about race and racism in a unit setting.

These activities support more general conversations about inclusion - so we’d recommend you use them in the context of more specific discussions about race and racism. You might also want to use some of the resources below on talking to children and young people. 

Uncrumpled friends: Rainbows - This unit meeting activity is from the topic Better together - an activity which explores the longer term impact of the things we say to other people. This activity links to the Rainbow Promise and asks girls to reflect on how they can be kind to everyone. You can find this activity in unit meeting activity pack 8, which will be released in August 2020.

Fairest of them all: Brownies - This unit meeting activity is from the topic Better together - an activity where girls explore discrimination and practise challenging people to be inclusive. You can find this activity in unit meeting activity pack 8, which will be released in August 2020.

Pick a card: Guides - This is a Stage 4 Reflect Skills builder activity where Guides practise taking on a new perspective to help them understand things from someone else’s point of view.

Equality v equity: Rangers - This unit meeting activity is from the topic Better together - an activity where Rangers explore the differences between equality and equity and reflect on what they could do in their local community. You can find this activity in unit meeting activity pack 8, which will be released in August 2020.

Further resources

These resources will help you talk to children and young people about race and racism:

Resources from the BBC

Books for young people

  • Brick by Brick, Giuliano Ferri (3-5 years)
  • A is for Activist, Innosanto Nagara (3-7 years)
  • The Skin I’m In, Pat Thomas (4-7 years)
  • Let's Talk About Race, Julius Lester, illustrated by Karen Barbour (4-8 years)
  • Don't Touch My Hair! Sharee Miller (4-8 years)
  • The Day You Begin, Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López (4-8 years)
  • Something Happened in Our Town, Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin (4-8 years)
  • The Color of Us, Karen Katz (4-8 years)
  • Amazing Grace, Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch (6-8 years)
  • Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X, Ilyasah Shabazz, illustrated by AG Ford (6-10 years)

Resources to enhance your own knowledge

Becoming anti-racist is a long-term process of learning and unlearning. We hope the following resources will help you, wherever you are on that journey.

Books to start with

  • Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • So You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Race, Robin DiAngelo
  • Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X Kendi

Books to build on your knowledge

  • How to be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X Kendi
  • Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland, Jonathan Metzel
  • Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, Akala
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander

Books that tackle specific topics of racism

On education:

  • Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Teacher Got Wrong, James Loewen.
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria? Beverly Daniel Tatum

Law and police brutality:

  • The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein
  • Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond, Marc Lamont Hill

Biographies and non-fiction:

  • The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
  • I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing, Maya Angelou
  • Becoming, Michelle Obama.
  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Slay in your lane, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

Fiction:

  • Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman (Young adult)
  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas (Young adult)
  • Beloved, Toni Morrison
  • The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
  • Queenie, Candace Carty-Williams
  • The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi

Black LGBT books:

  • Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin.
  • Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, A Biomythography, Audre Lorde
  • Real Life, Brandon Taylor.
  • Unapologetic: A Black, Queen, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements, Charlene A. Carruthers.

Black feminist books:

  • Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Patricia Hill Collins
  • Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, bell hooks
  • How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
  • Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde
  • Women, Race, & Class, Angela Y. Davis
  • Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
  • Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, Melissa Harris-Perry

Videos to watch

Test your biases

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  These biases, which can lead to both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.

An implicit bias test measured these biases. For example, you may believe that women and men should be equally associated with science, but your automatic associations could show that you (like many others) associate men with science more than you associate women with science.

Test your biases with an implicit bias test

We’re continuously working to improve our resources on race and anti-racism. If you’d like to share any resources or ideas with us, please get in touch at [email protected]