One week ago, on May 25th 2020, George Floyd was killed by the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was on the heels of the murders of Breonna Taylor (by police in her own home) and Ahmaud Arbery (by racist neighbors while he was jogging). The past few days have been filled with turmoil and grief, fueled once again by the status quo of racism and inequity in this country for Black Americans.
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at the moment – become the center of the universe.” – Elie Wiesel
The repeated violence targeting the black community is typically met with apathy or short-term concern. We need to make fundamental changes to our society. We need to turn our outrage into action. We need to question our biases, educate ourselves, and commit to bettering our communities.
For many families with young children, times like these are difficult to navigate. You may be confronted with the question of “Is my child ready to have conversations about race and injustice?”
The answer is yes. Children learn about race whether you talk to them about it or not. In staying silent, parents allow racial prejudices present within our society to continue to be enforced. Children need adults to contextualize the differences they see in the world. In doing so, you are changing the trajectory of how your child may view people different from themselves and how they come to understand the unjust experiences of others. This list is not exhaustive, but here are a few ways and resources to start the conversation:
- Don’t dismiss their questions on race, and don’t stay silent!
Children are full of curiosity and they may ask questions about current events or lived experiences of people who look different from themselves. It may feel like a gut reaction to dismiss them quickly and move on, but even small moments like this are an opportunity to promote equity.
- Make a conscious effort in bringing diversity into their lives.
Children are greatly influenced by their environment, including tv shows, books, and movies. By exposing them to racially diverse and complex BIPOC characters, you are building a narrative of diversity and equality. These small changes can make a big difference.
- Address your privilege.
Most families have some sort of privilege. This doesn’t mean that you haven’t had hardship in your life or that you haven’t experienced some form of discrimination. Helping your child understand what their privilege affords them from a young age can enable them to be conscious of it as they grow up and strive for equality in the world.
See below for other resources on this topic!
Kid-Friendly Books on Black History and Racial Justice:
A no-nonsense book explaining racism and how to recognize it: A Kids Book About Racism
Teaching kids to stand up for what they believe in: A is for Activism
A story about what makes each of us special: Let’s Talk About Race
A book that teaches the value of consent: Don’t Touch My Hair!
A story to excite kids about starting school through the eyes of a Black protagonist: The King of Kindergarten
A bilingual picture book celebrating all skin colors: All the Colors We Are
40 inspirational stories of powerful Black women in history: Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
A song in picture book form empowering young Black boys: He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands
A poetry book that celebrates Black children: Hey Black Child
The history of Malcolm X: Malcolm Little
A rhythmic book on self-esteem and confidence: Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
A mystery story about racial injustice: Something Happened in Our Town
A story celebrating and exploring the joys of black childhood: Little Man, Little Man
Celebrating differences and similarities that connect people together: The Color of Us
Self-acceptance and self-love for all children: I Am Enough
Bob Marley’s love and positivity in book form: Every Little Thing
Places to Donate in support of the Black Lives Matter movement:
Black Lives Matter: https://blacklivesmatter.com/
Minnesota Freedom Fund: https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/
Reclaim the Block: https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/
National Bailout Fund: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/bmbo-covid19
NYC Liberty Fund: https://www.libertyfund.nyc/
Northstar Health Collective: https://www.northstarhealthcollective.org/
The ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund: https://www.naacpldf.org/
Reallocating Funds in NYC: https://www.changethenypd.org/NYCBudgetJustice