Race: how do we speak to our children?

by | Aug 27, 2020 | Causes, Racism

“As parents, it’s our responsibility to have these discussions and mould our children into decent humans.”

Being a parent has been particularly challenging the past few months. Alongside all of the worry, demands and pressures of a global pandemic, some of us have also been battling another systemic virus. Racism.

As part of my daily exercise during lockdown, I decided to take up running. I have been working my way through Couch to 5K with my 9 year old daughter. It has been one of the best things I’ve done in a long time.

  1. I think I like running and
  2. Most importantly, it’s given us a new mother and daughter a hobby to do.

Running and bunny counting around Preston Park means plenty of opportunities for one on one chats. And one of the main things she’s wanted to talk about is racism, something she has heart-achingly experienced already.

Now, I feel relatively well equipped to talk about racism. Whether from the perspective of personal experience or academia, I generally feel quite confident having conversations in this arena. However, talking to a child, even more so your own child, the conversation becomes so much more complex. I find myself choosing my words very carefully, watching her reactions intently whilst needing to empower her every step of the way.

This made me think. If I, a self proclaimed ‘pro’ in this arena, find it difficult having these conversations with her child then how are others doing? Other children, parents, teachers? Normally, this global conversation around the social construct of race, systemic racism and personal experiences would spill out into playgrounds, classrooms and assemblies. Would those conversations empower or diminish her?

Thankfully, my daughter was at home with us. We talked, hugged, read, wrote stories, and talked some more. She and her siblings had a safe space to explore how this felt for them. We’ve talked about the peaceful protests in Centre Square and Albert Park. We’ve followed Zara’s brave curbside protests. We’ve seen Black Lives Matter posters in windows where we live. We’ve started to hear ‘Anti-Racist’ being used as opposed to ‘not racist’. We’ve watched people from all backgrounds take a stand, shout loud and commit to changing things.

Many people have asked about how to discuss recent events with their children. As parents, it’s our responsibility to have these discussions and mould our children into decent humans. There is a lot of anti-racism work to be done in Teesside. I shared a fab document on Twitter by Yoopies, jam-packed with resources, activities and tips for families to empower children and work towards racial equality. In October, during Black History Month, Stockton-based organisation Cultures CIC host a huge celebration of African Culture – Taste of Africa. This is now in its 15th year and is such a relevant, uplifting, energised way to bring communities together. With Black History Month fast approaching, I hope that there’s a wider effort to celebrate the contributions, history and stories of African and Caribbean people in Teesside.

Racism won’t disappear overnight, but hopefully our children are watching a sterling effort to challenge and eradicate it.

Twitter: @georginachinaka

Further reading
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/amp/53193917
https://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2020-06-05/teesside-teenager-starts-black-lives-matter-protest-o n-her-street-following-george-floyd-death
https://yoopies.co.uk/c/press-releases/blacklivesmatter

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