Explaining Police Violence and Racism to Young Kids
Explaining Police Violence and Racism To Kids: I've been contemplating all week about whether or not... no scratch that... more realistically, WHEN I'll have the discussion with my six-year-old son about race. Up until now, he's not really even aware that people have labeled skin colors other than the ones in his crayon box. He doesn't know that we are called black. He doesn't know that his teacher is called white. He just knows that we love him and he really likes his teacher.
I've always been aware that at some point I'm going to have to explain things to him, age appropriately, and in a way that he'll understand. But what I don't feel prepared for is how much I'm going to have to tell him much earlier than I thought I ever would. Not just for his understanding, but most importantly for his personal safety. As a mom, I don't have the luxury of waiting like some parents do, because see I'm raising a black son.
Raising a white child in America, is much different from raising a black child in America. While me and my husband are already thick into explaining more about our body parts, safe touching, stranger danger, memorizing phone numbers/addresses, teaching him to tie his shoes and making sure the seat is down when going number two, now we have to explain about race and why it matters. I'm almost positive that my white friends don't have to add that final course to their first grade 101 semesters, but in my house it's imperative. The question is, how do you explain this stuff to a six-year-old? How do we tell him that there are people out there that will hate you son for the color of your skin? There are people out there baby that will kill you over the color of your skin or just out of fear of who they think you are. How do you explain this? There's no sugar-coated way to make any of this stuff be sunshine and glitter.
This makes me sad. It makes me cry. It makes me sick and makes my heart ache as a mom. It's painful to see so many young blacks being gunned down or taken out in their prime by ignorant people or police that are simply trigger happy or uncomfortable with our melanin and our culture. Their impressions are that we are violent, we're uncivilized, we're not worthy of respect, we have no right to demand anything further than what we are "allowed", we're threatening, we're scary, we all look the same, we're not equal, we're not intelligent enough, we all live/eat/entertain/parent the same. It's ridiculous!
How long are we going to have to fight to prove our worth? How long are we going to have to flip/flop as parents? To shelter or not to shelter, that is the question. So many mixed signals.
I'm sure we all want to live in a non-racist society and often pray for color blindness, but the reality is we can't make this be... not yet. I can't lie to my son and tell him that the color of his skin doesn't matter. It does in America. No matter how much we try to overlook it or pretend skin color doesn't exist. It does. There's no getting around the fact that people are all different. Each one of us (humans) is unique. Until we embrace the truth as a society and stop being afraid of other human beings that are not like us, we are going to ALWAYS continue in this struggle with racism, black vs. white and the senseless killing of our people (because believe it or not, those black people ARE everyone's people) in broad day light... in the middle of the streets.
As a black American, I feel like we moved from an era of putting us in chains, to an era of lynching then over to another era of invisible chains. Now we face our newest and very dangerous adversary: blatant shootings and police brutality. It doesn't matter if it's eye-witnessed, caught on video or testified to, everything can be easily justified by local laws, regulations, false reports or masked by the patriot act. It's okay to shoot first then have an "investigation" later, if you're not white in this country. EMT's can even lie and pronounce you still breathing when you have clearly died in front of us all on video, having been killed in broad day light by police officers. This is the world black children live in.