Last night as I was tucking my 11 year old daughter Leila in for the night I could tell she had something on her mind. She laid there silently for a moment and finally said, "I'm scared." This isn't something she typically says at this age, unlike her four year old brother, Isaiah. I asked her why she was scared. And she simply replied, "guns." I immediately knew where this fear was coming from. Ahmaud Arbery, an innocent black man was gunned down by two white men while jogging. This incident, while it happened in February, is now circulating on the news and widely on social media due to a video that was released showing his brutal murder. Wanting to dig a little deeper I asked her to explain her fear a little more. She started crying and said, "I'm scared for Daddy, and Isaiah when he grows up."
This broke my heart, and I told her I was scared too, not able to hold my own tears back. There is no good way to explain this to your child, who is on the cusp of adolescence and beginning to learn more about the ways of the world. There is not a true explanation other than ignorance, hate and injustice. As a white mother to brown children, I have much to learn about how to have these difficult discussions.
As parents we want to protect our children at all costs, we want to shield them from the evil of the world and guard their innocence as long as possible. Some may not discuss these vile hate crimes with their children because they aren’t ready for them to become aware that such atrocities exist. Some may say that I should have done more to keep my daughter from becoming aware as it has caused her such worry. Many of us ask ourselves what we can do to foster change. We feel saddened and disgusted, yet helpless, not sure what actions we can take. I want to encourage you. There are things that many people can and should do now that will create change. Lasting change takes time; there are generations of meaningful and impactful social justice work behind us. Unfortunately, there is still much work to be done, and we must all contribute to this work now and into the future.
Our role as parents is to guide and nurture the next generation with hopes of a better and more just world. As much as we want to protect them, we need to remember this important role. Parents of white children, I implore you to have these important conversations with them. I know this isn't easy and that you don't have to have these conversations like parents of black and brown children do to help keep
them safe. You have the privilege of choosing to keep your anger and sadness from your children on issues like this to shield them from feeling it. However, one of your great contributions to society is to raise an aware human being who understands the inequities of our country and is willing to actively fight against them. I believe this will help to create the change that so desperately needs to occur.
Below are some great resources I want to share with you to help prepare you for these conversations: