Teaching kids about protesting

When the violence in Minnesota lit up the entire world in frustration, we did not talk to our kids. When huge protests could be heard from the house and were a few blocks north of us on our street, we didn’t talk to the kids. When discovering ample resources and talking to friends with multi racial families, we still did not talk to the kids.

Talking to the kids about the Covid virus was an intense experience for all of us. Some of them are still trying to wrap their heads around what all of that means, and how the virus didn’t disappear when they ate the cookie shaped like one. They ask every day if the virus will be gone so they can hug people and see their friends over the summer, if they really have to stay away from Sassy when we’re going to her house to play in the yard. They ask longingly when they can go back to their playground right across the street. We know they worry about their families, and are doing everything in their power to understand. So when the entire nation took a stand, our kids knew nothing about it.

On Sunday morning, I walked into the kids having a fight. It wasn’t anything remarkable, but the adults in this house have been carrying the weight of what we are not talking about for almost 2 weeks. I couldn’t do it anymore. We had a conversation about violence, and a conversation about violence that primarily impacted black and brown people. We talked about how that’s only part of our family, and all the rest of us need to be allies – and what that means. we also talked about how all of us are allies in various situations, and how important it is to stand up for what is right even when it’s uncomfortable. We talked about ignorance, and people who think they’re better than other people. We talked about safety, until everyone deserves the right to be safe.

Then we all hugged and went off for a great and very normal Sunday. But on the way home, we stopped at the cool chalk protest. As hoped, most of the artists had finished for the day. We walked around admiring their work, and reading the great quotes and getting inspired. And then I gave the kids some chalk and let them add their own words and images. One wrote “segregation is not fair“. Another wrote “love is who we are”. It’s not a perfect exploration, and it’s certainly not our first conversation about race or justice, but it was a satisfying way for us to participate without having to be in a crowd. So we are not marching, but we are making signs. They will hang at our house for everyone to see. And our kids had a chance to stand up for what is right, and to understand that millions of people in the world are doing that right now to make this a better place for everyone. The stupid virus may still be here, but that certainly can’t stop everything.