Having ‘The Talk’ with Our White Children

We White People are familiar, perhaps, with The Talk that parents of Black and Brown children have to keep their children safe in a culture of White Privilege and White Supremacy.  I also believe that it’s on us –  White parents –  to have a talk with our White children.  It needs to be a long, ongoing talk that starts when our children are tiny and keeps going well into their adulthood.

Here’s what we need to tell them:

  1. You might think that Blackface is funny, but most of the world sees it as an insult that dates back to a time when White performers mocked Black people.
  2. You might think that the Confederate flag is a symbol of Southern pride, but most of this world sees it as a sign of hate that was flown with renewed enthusiasm during both the Jim Crow era and the Civil Rights movement to intimidate People of Color. Also (and I write this as a Southerner whose Great Great Grandfather died at Antietam) secession from the United States was treason.  And it was a war to perpetuate the evil of human slavery.  Why would we want to fly a flag that represents treason and the most despicable sin in our nation’s history?
  3. You might think it w makes us look tough to use the N-word, but most of the world knows that this is an ugly slur used to demean people.  People of color might use this word themselves, but that’s fodder for a different conversation.  White People – no.

Two of the incidents (linked above) occurred where I used to live in the leafy Chicago suburbs.  All of these incidents occurred over the past week.

White parents: this is on us.

In these days when many people feel empowered to say offensive words and act out offensive behaviors, we need to teach our children that this is not who we are – unless it is who we are and then I suggest we get some education.

If we are also  Christian White people, we have a special responsibility to teach our children that Jesus weeps when we mock, slander, and wound people.  No exceptions. This is not who God created us to be.

Teaching this to our children is Basic Parenting 101.  We can do better.

Image of Jennifer Harvey’s excellent book Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America.  If, by some chance, you are White and you do not believe that America is racially unjust, I especially hope you will read this book with an open mind and talk about it with friends.

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