Talking about Race and Racism with our Kids

Today as I was getting dressed and ready for my day I overheard a snippet of conversation from the other room, the kind of conversation that my parenting ear picks up on fast: “well, a choke hold is like this …”.

No, my kids were not about to hurt one another, as my first thought had led me to believe.  Instead, they were trying to understand the news they had heard about the death of Eric Garner.  My daughter asked her father if the police were dangerous, and why they would hurt someone when they are supposed to protect us.

My children and I are white, and as such we carry a great deal of privilege and safety around in this world with us.  We generally feel safe and we don’t evoke fear from others, but I hear the heart-breaking stories of other parents, parents of color but particularly parents of African American boys, having to decide how to teach their children to be safe from the policeThis is just wrong.  And it breaks my heart.

We ALL need to have these conversations with our kids, because the responsibility to face our society as it is does not rest solely with any one group, but particularly not just with the group most adversely affected by it.  We are all in this together, and my children, your children, all of our children will have to grow up with this system, this society, this world.

How can we explain the issues, the history, and the legacy of race and racism in our society?  It’s a long conversation, but here are a few places to start (resources gathered by a wonderful colleague of mine, thanks to Tim Atkins of Morristown Unitarian Fellowship!):

Resource Links:

http://standingonthesideoflove.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/RE-Resources-Ferguson-Racism.pdf

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/talk-students-ferguson/

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/08/how-to-teach-kids-about-whats-happening-in-ferguson/379049/

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2014/03/teaching_tolerance_how_white_parents_should_talk_to_their_kids_about_race.html

http://qz.com/250701/12-things-white-people-can-do-now-because-ferguson/

http://www.sproutsbookshelf.com/2014/09/talking-with-kids-about-ferguson.html

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/article/inoculating-our-children-against-racism/

http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/09/teaching_about_ferguson_do_s_and_don_ts.html

http://blog.leeandlow.com/2013/05/23/10-great-resources-for-teaching-about-racism/

http://www.philnel.com/2014/08/24/ferguson/

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