Meal Time Conversation Starters Around Race and Social Justice

Sharing a meal with friends or family is a way to show care for one another, to foster deeper connections, and to create a space for conversation. While making dinner together, we can study other cultures with our families by eating their food and talking about the differences we smell and taste when we do this. We can talk about what makes the food different and how people from around the country and in our community use different ingredients. This sets the table with the idea that our differences are what make a well-rounded, strong, vibrant community, not something to be hidden or swept under the table. 

We are always communicating about race. It’s either overt like it has been for the last few weeks following the murder of George Floyd, or covert like it is in so many households across the nation every day. Below are a few ideas to use at mealtime on how to guide the conversation surrounding race even with little kids.

While eating together, there are some subtle questions that we can ask to open the conversation up to our families without forcing the issue. With younger kids, especially, we want to meet them where they are at. Here are some questions we can ask (especially while racism and social justice are at the forefront of the news cycle): 

With elementary-aged children: 

  • What are your friends talking about on the playground or at the park?
  • Did you learn anything new when you talked to your friends last time you spent time with them?

With middle school-aged or older children:

  • What have we seen on TV or on your phone this week? How did that make you feel?
  • Have you been sleeping well? What have your dreams been like this week?

These are by no means an exhaustive list of questions to ask and topics to cover, but they can be the appetizer to a full course of meals talking about racial justice and acknowledging the wonderful, powerful differences in our community. These conversations with even children as young as 5 can lead to talking about how we can work together to support not just the systems in place but to build new systems that support everyone equitably.