The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality recently released a study looking at how the misperception of Black girls’ age can change how they are treated. Among other effects, they found the “adultification” of young Black girls can lead to less support in school, harsher discipline for infractions, and increased interactions with law enforcement.
One way to reinforce oppression is to remain silent. It is a defensive move that functions to politely keep those in power powerful, and those without power powerless.
I grew up in the 80s in a small, Midwestern town and never told anyone that both my parents were gay. Finally, when I was 20 years old, I started talking about it. The experience of being silent as a kid fuels my drive as a parent now, to disrupt silence, especially when it comes to talking about race with my kids.
Whitney Houston had it right—I believe the children are our future. I’ve been watching the climate change walkouts, the gun control rallies, the embrace of intersectionality and inclusion that seems to come so naturally to the young with a sense of awe and admiration. But within all that excitement and hope there’s a nagging question. Why are the kids having to work so hard anyway?
“50 people killed in the attacks…” I freeze. We’re in the car with the radio on and I’ve forgotten to switch the channel from the morning news. I’m wondering if my kids are listening to the story as the reporter continues talking. Should I change the station? It’s a dilemma that’s all too familiar for parents—hate and violence in the news, confronting us again and again with how to explain terrible things to our children.
Kids & Race Director Jasen Frelot was recently featured on Religica’s Seeking Wisdom series! Watch Jasen discuss childhood, how children “lose their play”, and bridging differences.
This week, as we recall the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., segregation is at the top of my mind. During the era of formalized segregation in pre-Civil Rights Movement America segregation was maintained through “whites only” signs at pools, restaurants, and parks, as well as “Sundown” laws and Redlining in American towns and cities. While the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 has made explicit segregation illegal, de facto segregation remains.
Even though most White people would never say something like, “I don’t want my children to play with poor black kids,” the way their neighborhoods, schools, and extracurricular activities are set up achieve this same effect.
America is such a large country that it’s easy to forget that there is a world outside of it. American culture and media have seeped into other countries and we can begin to believe that our traditions are universal, when in fact, they are very particular to our time and place.
The problem comes when kids grow up thinking “My tradition is the correct way” instead of “my tradition is one of many different traditions. My tradition can be special to me, but I can also recognize that other peoples’ traditions are special, too.”
At this very moment, there are grown-ups that resent, ignore, hesitate, or down-right fear touching the subject of race. A feeling that “enough has been said,” a sense that “others can deal with it,” or a belief that “it is here to stay even if something should change.” But as the hands of time continue to tick generation after generation, the same jack-in-the-box keeps popping up because adults can’t control an itch to turn the handle of hatred.