Talking to kids about race and protesting
Talking about race with your children may feel strange or daunting or perhaps you’ve just never thought about it. Or maybe you talk about it all the time!
If we hope to build an anti racist, not just a passive, society we have a responsibility to begin with our own minds and those of our offspring. In the early years it’s a great idea to focus on simply modelling love, tolerance and a desire to understand others. Children are naturally curious, they will observe difference and may say things like “that man has brown skin”, our responses to these questions and observations should be open and age appropriately informative without any judgement or (subconscious) bias.
This challenges us to evaluate our own perceptions of others and to face and eradicate any bias, prejudice or discrimination we find within ourselves. We all have some.
As our children grow we can be led by their questions but it’s helpful to make race a regular topic of conversation. Have a think about what you watch on television? Are there many BAME lead characters? How about the books on your bookshelves, do they represent other cultures and races? If not, you could visit your library and maybe explore other cultures together, watch movies from other cultures too. How are various races represented in media? What is your phone/social media telling you about people of colour, what’s the truth?
We can dive much deeper with our teens, looking at the history of various other people groups. In the UK, why not learn about Black British history and Indian British history as a family. Explore institutional racism, if you are a white family, imagine how it would feel to be a black person in Britain today, seek to understand black British history as if it was your own story-how would that make you feel today?
Do you think it would make you want to protest against inequality? If you knew that your great grandfather had been born into slavery and had no rights as a human being do you think you would feel a strong sense of injustice?
Let’s try to raise curious, freedom fighting children. Children who are ready to stand up to racism and prejudice wherever they see it. Ready to protest for the rights of others and who see equality as a human right.
I’d like to raise children who are ready to protest and fight for what they believe to be right, recognising that sometimes we have to push against the authorities to fight injustice. We shouldn’t break laws for the sake of breaking them but we ought to break what binds others and robs them of their freedoms.
There is a place for protesting, and it is vital to seek to understand why protests become violent when a people group has been systematically oppressed and unheard for generations. Many have tried to fight for equality through education and peace, but the deeply institutional racism has remained in many countries all over the globe, leaving various people groups still experiencing a life of oppression, discrimination and injustice-and so we may see a different fight for freedom.
Educating ourselves, our children and our communities about the experiences of others is vital in the efforts to eradicate oppression and inequality.
By Hannah Blaize, mother of three curious cuties