If There Were Ever A Time, It's Now
I'm at home today watching the events unfold in Charlottesville. My only shock is that I'm actually surprised. This isn't America in 2017. This has always been America. The only difference is that now we are watching it on screens that we carry around with us in our pockets.
I won't get into all the sociopolitical aspects of what's happening in Virginia today, but I do feel like it's necessary to address the reality that our kids are watching and soaking up what we hear, say, see, and do in response.
Now, let's talk about our kids.
Specifically, our white kids.
Racism is a white problem. Because this is a reality, it means that it is going to require white people to begin assessing how we stand up to racial injustice and begin addressing ways to tear down systems that oppress people of color. Simply put, white people need to get their shit together. And in America particularly, 240 years of this oppression is going to require some serious work. One of the ways we can start is right in front of us - our kids.
My kids are pretty young and not necessarily ready to watch documentaries like "13th" or "I Am Not Your Negro" (both very good films that you should check out BTW). I'm not sure how ready my four year-old is for some of these topics (yet), but I do know that we can enter into community with people who look differently than we do. We can read stories and watch shows where people of color are the main characters. We can make practicing kindness, empathy, and forgiveness top priority. We can learn to speak up when we see someone being treated unfairly.
One thing we can't do: ignore this issue and fall into the false and harmful narrative that we or our kids don't see color.
I, as a parent, must have these conversations in our home. If I watch what's happening today and don't act, my kids will one day ask me why. I often look at the old images from the Civil Rights era of the 1960's and think to myself "I would have stood up." Well, now is my chance, and my kids are watching.
There are a few other pieces I've read on this subject that you might find helpful in talking to your kids about these issues: