How Do I Talk to My Black Children about Racism? I don’t.

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No, this is not click bait. Yes, I am very much firm in my viewpoint. You would think with me being very vocal about the sufferings and injustices of Black people due to racism that I’d be in a rush to discuss it with my children. Well, I am not.

Black children with their parents

My children are 8 and 5 years old and I already have a tough time explaining why they cannot ride their bikes in their underwear or why they must brush their teeth every day, twice a day. So, you want me to explain to my 8 and 5 year old how they can be murdered while doing daily tasks like sleeping, jogging, or simply EXISTING because the color of their skin? Do you see the fear I would ignite? Do you see the innocence that would be lost?

It is not irresponsible for me not choosing to talk about race with my 8 and 5 year old. My children are innocent in this fight, and I will not place that burden on them. Once it’s placed, I cannot take it back and they will carry it with them for the rest of their lives, like many of us have.

Once again, my children are innocent. We see how society and the media likes to dismiss black youth as not being innocent or children. They like to throw labels like thugs, young adult, juvenile etc. when they are simply children. I will not revoke my children’s innocence before society forces me to do so. I will not be an accomplice to the stripping of my children’s childhood.

I am my children’s first line of defense. I am their personal protection. I am the first whispers of their inner voice and the first stones in their foundation of self-confidence and awareness. Now why would I want to instill fear into what I’m building? Although racism is physical, it is also mental and emotional. The power lies in the mind and it’s the first defense to any challenge. Choosing to discuss racism with those younger than 10 years of age is an act of fear mongering and irresponsible. Black children rarely get the chance to enjoy their childhood because of the roles and burdens they were forced to take on, because parents thought they were making them stronger and responsible. Burdens like lack of financial resources, caring for younger siblings, being a protector, and racism.

This could be any black child today becoming the protector of the household while caring for his/her younger siblings PLUS maintaining a part-time/full-time job to add to the household income, all while avoiding “white” spaces so they won’t be arrested or murdered. The NY times features an article detailing how black children are over policed and under protected. No, I will not talk about racism with my 8 and 5 year old. They are innocent children.

children playing and laughing

Because I am choosing not to discuss it with them now does not mean that I will never discuss racism with them. I was introduced to racism through a school textbook and presented my concerns to my mom. I never knew or felt others didn’t like me because of the color of my skin. I can thank my Mom for that. I never felt inferior or like I was never represented. My home was filled with black art. The television shows and movies I watched were filled with black actresses and actors. The people that inspired me looked like me. The love I received came from people that looked like me.

Now, as a parent, I see that my mom was intentional in teaching me love and showing me where I was represented. I also realize that my mom and I share different experiences and privileges with racism, as so will I with Aria and Hayes.

Aria wants to be an Artist and Police Officer when she grows up. How am I supposed to bring possible fear to the very thing she aspires to be? All she wants to do is put away the bad guys and write her Dad speeding tickets. I won’t do it. Now is not the time. I know the time is coming, but today I choose to over expose my children to love, kindness, compassion, empathy, respect, inclusive representation, and joy.

My children are living what we’re fighting for: freedom. Freedom from the inequality, injustices, and sufferings of racism. At this very moment, my children are free and I cannot chain them to the burdens of racism.

I am hoping this racism fight ends with me, so that I do not have to fight alongside my children. Give our children a fighting chance before they actually have to fight.

My children are innocent. My children are free. My children.

*If you are a family who chooses to discuss current events with your small children, then CNN and Sesame Street joined forces to address racism for children and families.

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Niki
Originally from Tupelo, MS, family and friends have dubbed Niki an honorary Memphian. She loves all of Memphis except Collierville, because of a speeding ticket that one time. Mom to Aria and Hayes and wife of 5 years, but high school sweethearts for 13 years. As a Memphis Realtor, you may spot her placing a “For Sale/Sold” sign in your neighbor’s yard. She also works as the Creative Director and Social Media Manager for downtown lifestyle boutique, Stock & Belle. Wait, there’s more! She also directs and styles photo sessions for local photographer, Jarvis Hughes. She is an advocate for self-love, equality, healthy eats, mother nature, and the 4-hour work day. If you’re wanting to get more personal with Niki, visit her personal blog www.ikinb.com.

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