If you’re a parent, this is no time to be silent with your kids. Get in front of the hard conversation about the realities of racism. We can speak to our kids in age-appropriate ways. We can be models for them. We know racial injustice exists. We wouldn’t be here if it didn’t. We must teach our children about racism. If we don’t, someone else will. It’s time for White people to step-up to the table and acknowledge injustice, acknowledge discrimination, acknowledge oppression, and to acknowledge that as White people we have benefited from the very systems that condition our society in thinking that treatment as such to people of color is not only acceptable, it’s expected.
As my spouse and I told our two daughters tonight. Racism is not only wrong. It’s unfair. Children know the difference between what is fair and what isn’t. We chose to capitalize on this kind of language with them.
To remain silent to our children about the realities of racism is to say to them that brutality and violence against Black people is simply a thing that happens. It screams to our children, “it’s not anything YOU have to worry about.” We’re White after all, right? I’m here to tell you that there is no humanity in disregarding someone’s lived experience for the sake of your own comfort. If we expect to change the current dynamic of racism in the United States, we first begin with stating that a problem exists in the first place. That’s where we can come in as parents. We are not a color-blind society. Everyone is not equal in this country. Everyone does not have a fair shake at creating a successful and prosperous life. The American Dream is a fallacy, unless of course you’re White. Our systems oppress people of color. Period. Full-Stop. The sooner we admit this is the case, the sooner we can work collectively to change it.
We have a chance to really begin this change. It begins with our kids. We have a chance to teach our children what we were not taught when we were young. We can’t just hope for the best that everything is going to work out. From slavery to our modern times of mass incarceration we can clearly see it hasn’t worked out. (Watch 13th if you want to know more about what I mean.) We don’t need to ask how we got here. We know how we got here. How we got here is written in our history books. The question we really need to ask is how are we going to change it? Active change for a better society needs to happen now and the burden to make that change is not on people of color. The burden is on White people.
People of color, as a result of the systems of oppression in this country, have had to have conversations for decades with their children about how to survive police encounters and how to maneuver through situations where White people are in power. If you do not know “The Talk,” you need to. Learn more about it here. And, here.
To say, as a White mother or father, that talking about racism and racial injustice is too uncomfortable, imagine having to have “The Talk” with your son or daughter. Imagine having to have to tell your young child that she, he or they have to think about their emotional and physical safety simply by stepping a foot outside the front door.
The time to talk with our White children is now. As Vernā Myers, Diversity Consultant, said in her powerful TedTalk, “How to Overcome our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them”
You’re not going to get comfortable until you get uncomfortable.Vernā Myers
So, you’re ready to talk with them then? Begin by reading this article from USA Today. It helped my spouse and I prepare what we wanted to cover with our own children. It offered recommendations on what is age-appropriate conversation and language to use with children of varying ages. Here’s another great article for parents. And, another.
Don’t wait then. Choose to actively live out your values around equality and justice. Honor the people of color in your life as well as in our national community. Reach out and sit in the pain beside them, in solidarity. Step-up to the table and speak out. Your children will thank you for it.