Have you talked to your children yet?
Have you told them about what’s going on in the news?
Have they heard the name George Floyd?
No? Why not? If your gut instinct is to respond with any of these:
- They’re too young.
- I don’t want to worry them.
- They’re anxious enough.
- I don’t want to stress them out.
- They won’t sleep for weeks.
Or some other variation of these very White Privileged responses; I would like you to consider something. Consider the fact that Black children do not get the luxury of being too young, worried, anxious or anything else to shelter them from the reality of today. They are taught from a very young age how to act, what to say, and so much more. This is something that they live each and every day. Every time they step foot out of their house, or even sometimes while in their own home – they are at risk. In order to keep themselves, their siblings or their parents safe; they need to know an additional set of rules and guidelines to follow when out in public that White Americans do not. They learn about what they can wear, how loud they can talk, an unspoken curfew, and how to act in order to (hopefully) stay alive when pulled over. Black children must be respectful, keep their cool and apologize or compromise – even when they are not in the wrong, when interacting with their White peers.
Black children learn from a very young age that they are second-class citizens. They learn that they live in a world that does not value them the same way it does their White counterparts. We are supposed to be raising our children to have confidence and to know their worth. We want them to advocate for themselves. Yet, what we are actually doing is teaching our White children to be confident and to advocate for themselves at any time. We are teaching our Black children to be confident, but not too confident. To only advocate for themselves until they are met with resistance or discomfort because things could escalate very quickly. We need to start teaching our White children that Black lives are just as important. Our children’s classmates, neighbors and friends of color matter. We need to teach our White children to stand up against racism because it is the ultimate form of bullying. Yes, there is racism between children even as young as elementary school.
Everything that is going on in the news: the murders, protests, and riots; are scary – terrifying really. As overwhelming as it is, we need to tell our children – inform them. We need to be angry with them. We need to cry with them. We need to talk about all the ways that we can help every single day. We need to show our children that it is okay to be scared of the world and what it is today. We need them to ask questions. We need our children to challenge us to think differently, to help make the world a better place.
We need to start with our White children so that the Black children of America can have a tomorrow that’s worth living. We need to stop being scared of damaging our White children. They are not as fragile as we are led to believe. We need to remember that children are stronger and more resilient than we give them credit for.
If you question whether your child is strong enough to handle the current events of today – I beg you to stop and think about how that same child, who is Black is living the nightmare that you are so afraid to talk about.