The next generation are the real change agents in our united battle against systemic racism. For really young children, this unique space we’re currently in won’t mean too much, however the NHS states that the first 8 years of a child’s life can build a foundation for future learning, health and life success. This means that if we truly want to play our part in tackling this issue and changing the landscape, we may need to consider having some difficult conversations with our children.
In my case, I’ve always known that I would have to broach the topic of race with my girls; for me, it would be completely irresponsible to not equip them with the knowledge they need to understand that at some point in their young lives, their race would emerge as an issue but they must not let this ignorant perspective define them. As sad as this makes me, it’s something I have no choice but to do. As the girls grow, I know that even more difficult conversations will need to be had such as preparing them for the potential unfair treatment from law enforcement; ill-mannered comments about their hair; and instilling within them that no matter what they see or hear from society, their value and beauty is real and worthy.
We’re now in uncharted waters where there is a new level of expectation for non-blacks to put themselves in a similar position, and have conversations with their children about race within their own four walls. As much as this is a positive move, there may understandably be some reluctance and unknowns about how to approach this. For many black people, having these talks isn’t really a choice, not if we want to raise secure and fulfilled children, so it’s much ‘easier’ and necessary for us to do this; but when these conversations are not fundamentally essential, it may be difficult to know exactly where to start and know exactly what to say. I don’t have the answers for this as I’m on the other side, but there are lots of resources available in the public forum that may facilitate and guide these conversations.
I was quite impressed with a recent guide I came across called A parent’s guide to Black Lives Matter as it not only provides information and useful resources, it also hosts activities which I think will really help children to understand the topic; learning by doing is always impactful. The guide has sections for both primary and secondary aged children, so hopefully you will feel confident to approach this at the level suggested.
- A quick introduction
- What is the Black Lives Matter movement?
- How do I explain George Floyd to my children?
- How do I open a conversation with children on race and racism?
- How do I explain White Privilege?
- It’s not just a narrative of struggle
- The danger of saying “My child isn’t racist”
- Being a role model through action
- Educational resources for you and your family:
- Books (for younger children, older children and parents)
- Online resources (for parents)
- Podcasts (for older children and parents)
- Films & documentaries (for younger children, older children and parents)
Good luck parents and carers; I hope that any conversations you do choose to have go well!
Sending love and light always.