Dinner and bedtime is the time for questions and open conversations with our kids. Sometimes they are nonsensical easy going conversations and sometimes they are the type of conversations that are hard to have.
Last night's dinner topic: Racism and Allyship
Our son is 8 years old and I'm sure there are plenty of people who will think: isn't he too young to be putting the worlds problems on his shoulders?! The answer is probably YES but if he was black, we wouldn't feel like we had a choice. This conversation would be different. I didn't have to explain to him how to keep himself safe or how current events effects him directly, I had the privilege of educating him about a broken system we are witnessing, not directly experiencing.
This isn't the first conversation we've had with our son about racism, and it won't be our last. As he gets older the conversation changes and adapts to what we believe his growing mind can understand and process. As he gets older our overview conversation become more focused and complex.
As we explained in the best way we could to a child about what is still happening in the world I could see our son getting visibly upset. This is when we always pause and ask him how he feels and what he is thinking, keeping the lines of communication open.
What he said next gave me pause.
"I feel like you think I could grow up to be a person like that, but I never would treat people like that. I know its wrong." He said.
I took a deep breath. Composing my thoughts. I think alot of white people feel the same way. I tell him that I understand. That we are proud of him for knowing better .....BUT
"One day, you will grow up to be a white man"
"...and that's a PRIVILEGE"
You are going to grow up and have opportunities your POC ( people of color) counterparts don't have. You have the opportunities to have these tough conversations with people who look like you and they will probably be more receptive. You will witness and hear about injustice that doesn't apply to you and have the opportunity to say and do something.
"Your privilege needs to be used to echo your allyship"
And just like that he nodded his head in agreement.
By bedtime he didn't have any more question to ask, but he may tomorrow, or the day after that, or a week or month later. We will be ready to listen and answer as best we can, when that time comes.
If you're raising the next generation...teach them how to avoid the mistakes of our past and current generations. Teach them how to rebuild, sustain and prop up a better world and society. Teach them to practice empathy even when it's hard. Teach them to stand up for people and extend their hand to assist others.
These conversations won't be easy. They aren't supposed to be. You might stumble, you might not have the perfect words to say, but teach them, that somethings are worth being uncomfortable for, because we get the privilege of being comfortable but we have the privilege of choice. Choose to decline complacency.