Just because the summer’s protests have ended doesn’t mean racism has. And it doesn’t mean hard conversations about anti-Blackness between parents and kids are done either.
Several non-Black parents shared how they needed to push back against their own internalized ideas of what’s appropriate for kids to know. One mom told Now This that when news of Phillandro Castille’s death in 2016 first broke, her initial instinct was to turn off her TV: “The kids were so young.”
Some shared their shock over hearing their son repeat an anti-Black stereotype or surprise to discover a child had picked up on a lack of Black performers at a stage performance.
Although it can make parents feel uncomfortable, experts have stressed the importance of addressing anti-Black racism with kids of all backgrounds and ages; no matter how young someone is, they’re likely picking up on social cues about the world and people around them.
It’s also important to note that Black families often don’t have a choice in having the talk, as their kids and teens can face potential dangers at any time.
Watch: ‘The Talk’ Black parents give their kids, by the Tyler Merritt Project. Story continues below.
It’s been helpful for many parents who are keeping race talks ongoing to frame issues with examples that kids will find relatable. One mom said she found it helpful to explain protests to her child through how frustrating and heart-breaking it is to be ignoring.
“If you’re hungry and I don’t feed you, then 10 minutes later you tell me, ‘I’m hungry,’ right? Eventually you’re going to cry and you’re going to yell,” she said. Then she brought in how protesters feel the same. “This is their cry. They’re crying.”
These face-to-face-conversations about challenging topics need to happen “every time you see systemic racism,” she later said.
It’s a lot to expect kids to learn, especially when so many adults continue to grapple with treating people fairly. But as one mom puts it, starting early will equip them to fight bigger battles later in life.
“If they grow up having internalized their role in fighting against any type of oppression and injustice wherever they see it, then I would have done my job,” she said. “I would be happy.”