15. August 2017 serious 1
The car is always where we have our serious talks. Strapped into their car seats and without electronic devices, the kids usually give me their undivided attention. With racial tensions constantly rising (especially of late), I often use this car time to talk to them about racism and equality.
We live in an unfortunately monochrome area of town. We left our old house on the opposite side of town four years ago in search of a good school district for the kids. Unbeknownst to us, we found ourselves in a suburban area of town where there are few families of any origin outside of white.
Because of this, having a conversation about racism when most of my kids’ friends are white is really confusing to them.
The plain fact is, they don’t understand color or race. One could argue that “it’s because they don’t see color,” as in, they see everyone equally no matter the color of their skin. Although that may be partially true, the real reason is that they literally don’t have an opportunity to see people of color. Everywhere we go in this part of town is devoid of diversity. Their teachers and their friends are mostly white. A trip to Target or the grocery store doesn’t show us any more diversity than a loaf of white bread. Restaurants, parks, and stores are all the same upper middle-class variants of white.
How can I teach my kids about racism and privilege when they don’t even have day-to-day relationships with people of color? While this situation doesn’t necessarily cause direct racism, it certainly doesn’t do much to help either. So, what does one do?
- Find children’s books at the library with people of color (POC) as the main characters. It’s unfortunately difficult but not impossible.
- Watch documentaries and movies with POC as main characters, talk about history, slavery, and oppression in age-appropriate ways.
- Visit local museums that teach African-American history.
- Talk about hate speech and words in music (the “n-word”) that should never be used.
- If they are old enough, talk about “microaggressions” (a concept I learned just in the last year).
- Teach them what Juneteenth is and that while slavery technically ended, POC were hardly free from discrimination.
- Point out racism in the media (movies, tv, etc.) when applicable.
- Teach about white privilege and the things that we are afforded naturally by the color of our skin that others aren’t so lucky to receive.
- Educate why “Black Lives Matter” exists and why “All Lives Matter” isn’t the right response.
- Talk to your kids about voting and which candidates support the issues that are facing POC and other minorities and what candidates will do the most to help the greater good.
- Get involved with the local candidates running for school boards and city councils.
- Take your kids with you to vote.
- If age-appropriate, take kids to local protests or marches.
- If it’s not appropriate for them to attend, then let them see you fight for rights. Proudly wear t-shirts supporting the different movements.
- Attend a Juneteenth celebration.
- Go beyond the textbook explanation on MLK and go to the parades on MLK Day.
- If protesting or marching is not age-appropriate for your kids, then volunteer with one of the many movements, non-profits, etc.
- Find out if there are things you can do at home as well.
I don’t have all of the answers to combat hate and racism, unfortunately. I just want to raise good people that fight for what is right and who truly believe that all people are created equally. If I can do that, I’ll call it a success.