As parents continue to follow stay-at-home guidelines due to the global pandemic and adjust the new normal of homeschooling and working from home, another crucial task has made its way to the forefront. Discussing racism and The Black Lives Matter movement with their child.
The movement and organization, founded in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman following the murder of Trayvon Martin, has reawakened global consciousness after a series of injustices and prejudices in recent weeks have sparked outrage and calls to action around the world.
First, Ahmaud Arbery was chased down and killed while out for a jog in Glynn County, Ga. Then, it was Breonna Taylor while asleep in her Louisville, Ky home. After, black birdwatcher Christian Cooper went viral after a confrontation could have potentially turned dangerous in New York City. Finally, it was George Floyd after an encounter with Minneapolis police cost him his life.
These incidents shine a light on the much-needed work that needs to be done in order to make sure everyone can proudly say that freedom and equality are not just ideas but an actual human right. Statistics and history show the future of our lives depends on it. According to a 2019 policy report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, racism impedes the overall health and development of children, specifically black children.
For parents of black children, it’s a matter of when, not if, the conversation of race will come up as the child gets older and becomes more exposed to the realities of the world. In the black community, there is a rite of passage known as “The Talk” which has nothing to do with preparation for the birds and the bees but everything to do with preparation for police interaction.
Black children are told to be respectful, pleasant, and articulate even when they are not met with the same respect. The overall goal is to make it home alive from a world founded on historical violence and oppression. Black parents have described this as a “necessary evil” due to this being a requirement for their child, while their white counterparts have the privilege of being uninformed and out of touch.
One black parent dealing with this “necessary evil” is a visual communicator and storyteller, Chantal Amsterdam. Amsterdam, who runs the blog Anointed Mom, is a mother to three children who she discusses the realities of discrimination and bigotry in a way she feels is appropriate for their respective ages. Recently, Amsterdam was a panelist on a discussion about black parenting during this time and opened up about how she navigates the situation.
“So my situation is different, I have two older kids as well and they are very aware of what’s going on right now,” Amsterdam said. “They talk about openly, their father talks about openly so I was pretty much was forced into this position of having this discussion with my youngest child.”
Amsterdam went on to explain she does not want her children to generalize all law enforcement as cruel and racist but wants them to understand how individuals within the police force have racist attitudes towards various groups which can result in great harm.
“I can look out the window behind me and I can point to the neighborhood where Dafonte Miller was beaten up by that undercover cop. It’s walking distance from my house,” Amsterdam said. “I can’t afford to look at racial brutality as something that [only] happens over in the [United] States because it really doesn’t.”
Overall, Amsterdam is focusing on making sure her children have a realistic but hopeful view of the world around them. As she and her husband work together to make sure their children are well – rounded and well – rounded, she is also open to becoming more informed on issues they may face in the future.
Given this is the social media age, parents also have the added responsibility of explaining what is being seen on their children’s daily feeds. As the uprisings and protests continue, parents are searching for the greatest ways to discuss systematic and individual instances of racial inequality.