In the wake of the George Floyd murder by a white Minneapolis police officer, the world has exploded with protests.
Millions of people around the world are taking to the streets to demand racial justice and for parents – especially white parents, this presents a learning opportunity to teach kids how to be more aware and respectful of racial differences.
But how? When the news cycles are showing frightening images of violence from protests around the US, and the viral video of George Floyd being murdered in broad daylight is so easily accessed online by anyone – even kids, many parents feel overwhelmed on where to start the conversation around race and equality at home.
We’ve put together a list of actionable ways that parents and kids can work together to help end racism through education, raising awareness, and getting involved in local communities.
This is not a short-term fix, though. These ideas are intended to be tools that parents can use every single day.
Read, Read, Read
Right out of the gate, parents get begin looking for books that teach racial justice at any age.
From birth through adulthood, there is a sea of wonderful titles that help kids explore and understand racial differences and how to identify stereotypes (both overt and subtle) in everyday life.
We really like this comprehensive list of antiracist books and media for kids ages 0 – adulthood from the Evanston Public Library in Evanston, IL.
Support Black Owned Businesses and Events
It’s one thing to read a ton of books and post feel-good memes online about racial equality but it’s an entirely different thing to make tangible support part of your family culture.
You can start by seeking out local black-owned businesses and making it a point to explain to your children the importance of financially supporting black-owned businesses, events, writers, and artists.
Your kids will learn that communities that embrace diversity economically are communities that flourish.
Expose Your Kids to Art
Art is a powerful tool that can help anyone better understand complex ideas.
Look for community centers, art galleries, art museums, and public events that are kid-friendly where you can expose your children to poetry, art, and other creative expressions from the voices of black people.
Teaching your kids an appreciation for art is a wonderful gift especially when that art can open their minds and hearts to diverse experiences and ideas.
Learn how to Talk to Your Kids About Tough Subjects
Let’s face it if the topic of racism (and don’t forget white privilege) makes you uncomfortable then how can you talk to your kids about racial inclusivity and justice effectively?
We really like this TED Talk by Liz Kleinrock that gives clear tips on how to approach conversations around racism and racial justice. Nothing about this is easy.
These conversations are hard but they are necessary and the more you know about how to navigate them with your kids then the more likely the lessons within those talks will stick.
Protest at Home
Not all families are going to feel comfortable bringing young children to a protest especially as images and stories of violence are highlighted in the news daily. But you can protest from home by doing a few simple but powerful things.
- Donate to organizations like the ACLU, Black Visions Collective, Reclaim the Block, and Campaign Zero. Learn what these and other organizations do and talk to your kids about why they are powerful tools for change.
- Sign petitions. You can make your voice heard by signing petitions that seek racial justice. Talk to your kids about what the petitions are for, how petitions work, and why you are signing one. Here is a petition to consider signing right now:Justice for George Floyd – this petition is to hold the other three police officers who helped in the murder of George Floyd to be held accountable
Show Your Support
Let your kids make protest posters that you can tape to your windows or have them chalk the driveway or sidewalk with messages of solidarity.
By giving kids a creative and hands-on way to be included in protests they can feel a sense of ownership.
While making your signs be sure to use that moment to talk about the history of Free Speech, historical protests, and the reasons why raising your voice in a variety of ways is important.
The most essential aspect of protesting from home is to make sure you are talking to kids about it.
Help them understand how donations, voting, and amplifying black voices are ways to make a difference.
And finally, don’t forget to vote!
Take every opportunity you can to talk about why voting matters and get your kids involved by supporting candidates through signs, donations, and showing up to the polls (or absentee ballotting given COVID).
None of this is easy. It’s not supposed to be. But if we work together, we can raise kids who are mindful of social justice and as a mom, I can’t think of a better gift.