Tuesday, July 12, 2016

‘Talking to Kids About Racism and Justice’

Parents may struggle with how to help children cope with recent incidents of violence, and even more with how to broach sensitive conversations about racism and justice in our society. Here are possible resources.

In 2012, Dr. David Schonfeld offered suggestions for helping children and adults cope with violence, especially when they may already be traumatized by earlier incidents of violence. And while the article was written in response to a specific incident, I believe that the advice it offers, continues to be applicable today.

“Talking to Kids About Racism and Justice.” The Oakland Public Library has compiled a list for parents, caregivers and educators, with resources for babies and toddlers, Kindergarten to second-grade, third- to sixth- and seventh-grade and older. It also includes a selection of articles and parent and teacher perspectives.

While adults have “rightly despaired” this week’s violence, the “purest form of grief and courage” has been expressed by children. That’s according to Courtney E. Martin writing for On Being. She urges parents of white children to openly acknowledge the “range of privileges and protections” that society extends to them, and engage them in conversation about recognizing this and working to change it.

For the Los Angeles Times, Sonali Kohli shares insights offered by Suzanne Silverstein, director of the Cedars-Sinai Psychological Trauma Center, for talking with children about recent violence. Kohli also shares approaches taken by parents Richard Milner, Antoinette Barrett and Tyrone Howard.

This final selection, author Omari Akil wishes was a joke post or satire.

Being of the “geekish human variety,” Akil was “inextricably excited” by the release of mobile game Pokémon Go, which gives users a chance to capture Pokémon cartoon characters while moving about in “the real world.” But after 20 minutes outside, Akil’s thoughts led to the conclusion that the game might be a “death sentence” for players who are black men.

This last especially resonated, “struck me plangent,” as Molly Ivins would say.

How many of the pursuits that I innocently enjoy might similarly earn a place on that “extremely long list of things white people can do without fear of being killed, while Black people have to realistically be wary”?

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