On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, Jr. was killed by four Minneapolis police officers. Preceding his murder was the murder of Breonna Taylor as she slept soundly in her bed and Ahmaud Aubry while jogging in his neighborhood. Within 30 days the world mourned the deaths of three black people who died unjustly at the hands of the police or by those acting as the police.
The world was already mourning the loss of jobs, social interactions, and many lives due to COVID-19. After these untimely deaths and a gut-wrenching feeling of unrest, the world was literally set aflame and parents around the world said, “What can I do to ensure I raise an anti-racist child?” It was no longer enough to just say, “I’m not racist. I love everyone!” The rally cry was to STAND UP in the face of injustice.
So what does parenting and racial justice look like?
Well, in a black or transracial household the topic of race is unavoidable, and unfortunately uncomfortable conversations about race have to take place well before parents are ready to ruin their child’s innocence. For white families it’s a privilege not to have to have these conversations. However, it’s imperative that you discuss racial injustice with your children because there will come a time when someone doesn’t want to play with my child at recess because she’s black, or they may use a racial slur when speaking about her. I need your children to stand up to the bullies, report the incident, and let that student know that they will not stand for anyone speaking about their classmates with hate speech.
There will come a time when my daughter and your daughter are shopping together, and the store manager is following her every move. I’ll need your daughter to make sure that my baby doesn’t carry a large bag into the store, and that if she purchases something, she walks out of the establishment with her receipt in hand.
There will come a time when my daughter is pulled over by the police and yours is in the passenger side. I’ll need your child to know that mine doesn’t have the luxury of arguing with the police, her hands need to be seen at all times, and when she goes to reach for her ID or insurance card, she has to let the officer know her next moves.
Speaking about race is no longer a taboo subject. It must be discussed in all households to ensure when racial injustice takes place, we recognize it and we stand firmly against it. Here are two organizations that have awesome ways to discuss race with your kids at home. These resources can help parents begin this tough, but necessary, process.
Embrace Race: EmbraceRace was founded in early 2016 by two parents (one black, the other black and white) who set out to create a community and gather the resources they needed (need!) to meet the challenges they face raising children in a world where race matters.
PBS for Parents: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) provides several articles, book recommendations, and virtual read alongs to begin the conversation with your family about race and racial injustice.