“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.
Dear Kids & Race: My preschooler is asking questions about Thanksgiving. What should I tell him?
This is a great question. When most of us were growing up, we learned a lot of inaccurate stories about Native Americans. We learned, for example, that the Pilgrims were good, albeit hapless, people fleeing religious persecution who survived their first winter in Massachusetts due to friendship with the Wampanoag, most notably Squanto.
Many families who attend our Kids & Race workshops come away inspired to make changes in their community but are unsure what steps to take. Personal reflection, talking with friends and family about racial issues, attending protests, and writing to representatives are all great ways to make positive contributions toward racial equity. But one of the biggest areas where we can have an impact is in our public schools.