Recently I had the chance to speak to a group of parents and students at the Lassiter PTSA Community Peace Dialogue. Ironically the group heard about my children’s book “Daddy, There’s A Noise Outside,” and decided to host a dialogue on race. I was a little nervous because these days you never know what kind of feedback you’re gonna get when you begin talking about Black and White issues. However, I manned up, agreed to speak and took my best shot.
One might think this is a departure from my work as a fatherhood and family advocate. Not so. Sometimes as parents (even dads), we have to talk about things that impact our families. For my children, unfortunately my expertise doesn’t end at lifting heavy things around the house.
As I do often when I speak, I try as much as possible to make people feel like I’m talking “with” them not “at” them. This was no different. I asked people to share with me, the times that they actually spoke to their parents about race.
In this very diverse audience I was pleasantly surprised by the honest responses I receive particularly from the students. Many of them had had conversations around race at home. They also understood the racial climate that exists today. I was encouraged by the fact that both the Black and White students were able to frame what they believed about race, through their own personal experiences with each other. I was also encouraged to hear that the White participants were not threaten by the notion of “Black Live Matters.” They made it clear in context that they understand that Blacks didn’t believe that other lives don’t matter.
I left there with many new friends and a renew motivation that as a parent, I have an obligation to talk to my children about race. To help them understand the history of race in this country and abroad. To encourage them to love themselves, but not at the expense of others.
We can learn a lot from each other. Our children can teach us a lot about humility, compassion, sympathy, empathy and love. The solution is very simple; we must talk, talk honestly and without judgement. The formative thoughts of our children about others begins at home.
Have you had a conversation with your chidden about race? How did it go? What did you do that can help other parents have the conversation also? Why did you do it?