How To Talk To Your White Children About George Floyd

Last night, Kendrick and I were talking about Christian Cooper – the man who videotaped a white woman in Central Park flipping her lid and telling the cops that “an African-American man” was “threatening” her, despite the fact that he was demonstrably doing nothing of the sort – and George Floyd, whose story is so heartbreaking it defies description. About how easily the former story could have taken the the turn that the latter’s did. Our son overheard us, and started asking questions. We answered as best as we could, while I tried to dance around the parts that sounded too scary for an eight-year-old. I don’t know that I should have done that.

I don’t know what to do.

How do you explain to a child that systematic racism is a “we” problem, when they may not be old enough to contextualize beyond “me” (e.g. white people did this –> white people are bad –> I am white –> I am bad). I have struggled also to explain the gross injustices suffered by women in this country to my son, a white boy who will one day grow into a white man. He sees t-shirts that say “Girl power” and I try to help him understand why he can’t wear a t-shirt that says the same about him. I am trying to raise a nice boy. I also remember the things that the “nice boys” at my liberal arts university did to their female peers.

How do you talk to your children about pervasive and terrifying injustices that they themselves did not create, but that they participate in by the simple and inescapable fact of their privilege?

How do you talk to your white children about George Floyd?

My answer: I don’t know. Which is unacceptable. So instead of talking, how about I listen?

Resources for white parents to raise anti-racist children (original doc here):

Articles to read:

Videos to watch:

Podcasts to subscribe to:

Books to read:

Films and TV series to watch:

  • 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
  • American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
  • Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 — Available to rent
  • Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — Available to rent
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
  • Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
  • I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
  • Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent
  • King In The Wilderness  — HBO
  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
  • Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
  • When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix

Organizations to follow on social media:

More anti-racism resources:

Document compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020.

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