Why we must talk to children about #BlackLivesMatter
On the 25th of May 2020 George Floyd was killed by a police officer in broad daylight. Another senseless murder of a member of the black community, it sparked a chain of events that caused people to take notice. It caused people to think about the racism black people have suffered. It has added fuel to the Black Lives Matter movement and raised it’s worldwide profile. Now more than ever it feels like there has been a shift in consciousness, like people both black and white people have had enough of the systemic racism that poisons our lives. This is why it is so important for us to talk to children about #Blacklivesmatter. If we are going to make things better it starts with educating both ourselves and our children.
In addition to writing this post I also spoke about this topic on the BBC Bitesized Primary Parents Survival Guide Podcast. Here is a 30sec clip from the show, and thank you to the Bitesized team and Eli Sessions for having me on the show.
Things to bear in mind…
Educate yourself first
There is no point trying to broach a subject with your children that you know little about . If you want to be able to answer their questions and have an insightful conversation with them, you need to know what you’re talking about. Throughout this blog piece there are one or two resources to help with this but stay curious and keep exploring. There is so much out there.
Acknowledge White Privilege is real
Whether you realise it or not, being a white person grants that person certain rights that are not extended to black people. Tackling racism is also about challenging the stereotypes of white privilege which we see everyday. These stereotypes are linked to institutional or systematic racism and changing them will be pivotal in changing attitudes as a whole. If you are white this is one of the hardest parts of racism to grasp and come to terms with. Partly because white or black we’ve had so many years of accepting white privilege as the norm. So when you talk to children about #blacklivesmatter it’s important to remember to include this side of things.
Start the conversation with your children
We live in a diverse world with people of different races and cultures. We need to demonstrate and make our children aware of these from an early age. The more they see and know about diversity and race the more they will understand it. A really good way way to start this is through reading. We read books to our children from a very young age and with any luck they carry on reading into adulthood. Here are a list of books compiled by Kidadl that tackle diversity, race and the issues surrounding racism. Read some for your children, suggest titles they can read themselves and be prepared for the conversations they start.
Be conscious that it can be a scary topic for children
Racism can be a very difficult topic to discuss, especially when looking at the uglier side of it. Topics like hate, cruelty and the violence can be shocking and scary for adults let alone children. Be mindful and sensitive to this and discuss as age appropriately as you can. We must realise that some topics will need to be revisited as our kids become more mature and gain experience. There is no need to frighten them unnecessarily. But this is also not a reason to not have difficult conversations.
Teach your Children how to treat others.
It’s one of the fundamentals of life but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate this when it comes to race. We need to educate our kids to treat others in the same way we would like to be treated regardless of race, religion colour or creed. Children are not born racist they learn racist behaviour from the people around them. If we can eradicate this we are half way to eradicating racism.
Be an Anti- Racism role model for them.
This point is taken from our How to be a good Dad post? Children constantly look to their parents to see the way they should behave. Even when you think they are not paying attention, they are. When dealing with a subject as sensitive as racism you must try to behave in a way you would like them to behave. If we can’t demonstrate anti-racism as parents how can we expect our children to?
Use film and TV
As a parent educating themselves about racism we are lucky to have some incredible films and TV shows that I regard as essential viewing. They cover different times, different subjects, different aspects, and different problems. I have included this basic list. Watch as many as you can, absorb them, imagine the atrocities were committed against you. Hopefully it will drive you to fight against racism and talk to children about #BlacklivesMatter.
Has this post given you some ideas on How to talk to children about #BlackLivesMatter? Tell us your thoughts, experiences, and questions.
It’s important that we hear from those of you out there living it. Have you got black or multiracial children? Have you’re kids experienced racism? What other resources can help with this topic?
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