The question parents keep asking goes something like this: “What do I tell my children about the recent racial violence in America?”
Well, parents, if you’d been on your job, which is that of preparing children for life, there would not now be a panic search for answers .
Whether Black or White, we’ve owed our children a picture of what they are now being exposed to on a daily basis.
Parents tend to be oblivious of a couple of very crucial facts, the most important being that the kids are watching, listening, and jumping to their own conclusions.
The second most important omission that’s made by parents is not recognizing the power of the home environment we establish.
“But the killing of the five policemen and the street demonstrations by Black Lives Matter just have no explainable approach for a young child “, say too many white parents.
My friend Ty Vance, a phenomenal on-stage story teller, would offer these parents who are in denial as to who they are and how they conduct their lives around their children, a very strong example as to how they’ve already laid the groundwork of the way their kids view the racial divide.
As a kid, Vance was door-to-door selling something for his Boy Scout troop. A young kid, around the age of 5, answered the knock.
Vance asked, “Are your parents here?”
The kid said “Yeah” and left the door calling for his mother.
“Mom, there’s a nigger at the door.”
Mom bought all of Vance’s products and apologized for her child by saying, “I just don’t know where he got that from.”
Well, Vance knew where. I know where, AND Mom also knew where.
Oh, you think my friend Ty Vance, being a story-teller, made this up?
I can share a first-hand experience that’s just as clear.
We dropped my second-grade daughter off at a party being given by one of her young white friends.
When I picked her up, my kid explained to me that the reason the party-giver’s dog was barking when she arrived was because the dog didn’t like black people.
Oh, my household members talked about this around the dinner table. My second- grader wasn’t having any of our conversation and protested “My friends aren’t like any of that.”
But only a few months later when the white family had to evacuate their home in the Altadena foothills due to flooding, they asked if their young girl could stay with us.
Of course, she was welcome for as long as the weather emergency lasted.
When the young white second-grader stepped into the house, she reached to pat our cat. One of my teenagers shreiked, “Don’t touch that cat – it doesn’t like white people.”
My second-grader was devastated and took off to her bedoom in tears, sobbing and telling me the cat didn’t know white people from black people.
Well, my second-grader is now a grown woman who has withstood the rigors of being black in America, and if anyone were to ask her now about “friends not being like that” she’d give you a straight-up answer on how kids, no matter how young, learn from their parents.
And the white second-grader? Well, who knows? But we do know she didn’t get any good lessons on race from her parents.
Parents, let’s stop kidding ourselves, because we’ve been discussing the racial divide down through the years. And now the black young men being killed by the police – which never prompted white people to wonder what to tell their kids – the murder of the Dallas officers and the Black Lives Matter street protests have brought the simmering American racial pot to a full-fledged rolling boil.
Don’t know what to tell white kids? Ask me. I’m available for parents with kids of any age group.
Don’t know what to tell black kids? Aw, come on now. But I’m available for you folks, too.