LENT. Day 8.

Lent. Day 8.

Talk to your children about racial justice.

Let them ask the really hard questions – don’t avoid them, as uncomfortable as it might be for you. If you don’t know, tell them you’re still learning. And then seek out the truth and find an answer for them. DO NOT tell them you don’t know, distract from their questions and hope they forget to ask again. Kids are brilliant and they see through that garbage, let them see you full of courage to face and not fearfully avoid discomfort….

What a wonderful thing to have that vulnerability from a parent, for a child to see that their parents are courageous, lifelong learners – always striving to grow and know and do better.

This making space for them to ask questions also means presenting them with worthy content. Living stories, not twaddle… and when you read them stories, identify the patterns of oppression throughout history so that first and foremost, you grasp the weight of what whiteness means, and then, they can begin to. Essentially, when you are looking for it, any story that touches on history or any historical fiction is going to include examples of this oppression of minorities, and the privileges afforded to white people as a result.

It’s literally everywhere, but a few examples in the forefront of my mind from recent things we’ve been reading include: Little House on the Prairie and how the American settlers forced the Indians west. Stories of Pocahontas, Columbus… watching the show Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. And obviously any stories which depict slavery, segregation, etc.

Read them stories of black heroes, not just the stories of slaves. They need to see the heroes! We have to correct the narrative. (Reference day 7 where I challenged you to seek out hero stories you’d never encountered before, too.)

I promise that if you take the time to talk to your kids about this, you’ll learn from them. You’ll see what biases they’re already developing, you’ll see their bent for truth and goodness and justice.
You’ll be so glad that you did.

For book ideas for kids, follow @hereweeread on instagram. She’s a brilliant diversity expert and her feed is filled with wonderful resources.


BONUS content: A conversation with my kids that changed my life.

Note: this was probably one of the longest conversations we’ve had on this topic. We had to build up to it with many other short answer questions many other times. But each was worthwhile and revelatory.

Also important to know this: I fail with my kids, like all the time. I mess it all up. I prioritize the wrong things and miss the mark. So often. By the grace of God, this seems to be catching, and I’m so, so grateful. Please know that I share this not to boast at all, but to emphasize how powerful and important these conversations can be.

January 27, 2018:
Tonight, I had a conversation with my kids that I want to remember forever.

Amelie made so many amazing statements and was so full of passion it completely blew me away. I am going to stumble through my best recollection, but hope simply to get it all out, and I fully own that I’ll mess up the exact wording a bit.

So, we were watching Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (it’s on Amazon Prime, and btw, has given us SO many amazing talking points,) and there was a conflict where officials were coming in to the reservation and attacking the Native people – the Cheyenne.

We paused for discussion and questions, as we often do. I answered a couple of questions and then asked Justice why he thought those people seemed to hate the men they called “Indians” so much. He answered that ‘they steal and fight.’ Amelie was quick to correct him – “that’s not true – they want peace and to live their own lives.” We got to talk about how there’s this story that white people have believed: people with brown skin are dangerous or less than those with white skin. THAT IS A LIE.

This is a big deal, because Justice is big on truth and lies right now and it was incredible to watch him make the connection that the evidence before him was contrary to the story he was being told about the men being treated unjustly.

This is something we’ve talked about in different degrees, many times. And little pieces of the puzzle click each time, more and more, for each of us, I think. Martin Luther King Jr. is fresh in their minds because they had a lot of questions about him on the recent holiday – Justice made the connection instantly. “Mom, it’s like when the people killed Mister King Jr because he was black and he wanted all the people to be equal….. It’s just so stupid.”

Amelie could hardly contain her indignation, which is always the case in these kinds of conversations. “I could say the word stupid for the rest of my life and it wouldn’t be enough to say how stupid people are who think that the color of someone’s skin means they don’t deserve to live.” Mind you, she looks at me with caution each time she says the word stupid, because this is typically not a word we use to describe people – only choices. I let her go on, and she went on for a little while, expressing her pain and anger, as they asked questions about whether people today, anywhere in the world, are still treated badly for the color of their skin.

Oh, my children.
How I wish I could answer differently. How I wish that unarmed people of color weren’t being shot during traffic stops, or black children weren’t being shot while playing with toys, and black fathers weren’t filling our prisons for crimes which, when committed by white men, are oft ignored.

We talked, very simply, about some of the ways that injustice still happens here in our country, everyday.

These children were shocked and outraged.

Oh, my children.
How I wish so desperately that everyone everywhere could see injustice so clearly as you do.

Today was a hard day for other reasons that led up to watching a show on the couch just before bedtime. But in this moment, I gathered all my energy and was able to meet Amelie’s gaze during her monologue. And when she finished, I told her how important it is that she remembers how she feels with this truth right now. Always. And that she takes that conviction and stands up for what is right.

{What sweetness, by the way, for Justice to finally, truly begin to understand what his name means.}

Then, Amelie said, “Mom, I’m going to work on my courage – for my whole life – to have the courage to talk to people – maybe even big groups of people – about how important it is to treat every person equally.”

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