If we thought we were scared because of the pandemic, something else transpired that made our nation forget about social distancing and fears linked with coronavirus–something that is far more long-standing, systemic, and troubling for humanity.
It’s the prevalence of racism and police violence disproportionately impacting Black people, as the horrifying events that led to George Floyd’s death reminded us. Our generation has proven that we are not the ones to bring healing, but we are so hopeful for our future generation, which is why we can’t stop thinking, how do we teach our children?
What began as suspicion of a counterfeit bill for $20, ended with a man’s life after a police officer kneeled on an unarmed Black man’s neck for 8 minutes, despite his repeated statements that he could not breathe. George Floyd died shortly after.
Police misconduct isn’t new. Racism isn’t new. Police misconduct disproportionately impacting black people isn’t new. George Floyd, the unarmed Black man, is far from the first black man to die tragically at the hands of law enforcement. By 2020, our nation’s hope was this type of racial tension and prejudice in policing would be something of the past, but it isn’t. As a nation we’ve witnessed significant progress but also significant regression, highlighted by brutal police interactions caught on cell phone video, as we witnessed George Floyd’s last horrifying moments because of a cell phone.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many races face prejudices as well, including Asian-Americans and following the tragic events of 9/11 where many individuals from Middle Eastern countries faced prejudices and even hate crimes. We can do better.
Talking to our children about current events, and more importantly, how to interact with law enforcement and each other is more important than ever. How do we address this with our children and teach them to be better? Here are 4 starters on how we address racism and police interaction with our children:
1. Be Uncomfortable With Injustice And Do Something About It
We teach our children to be more than uncomfortable with injustice. If these children grow up to be our future police men, we instill the lessons that no one should die the way George Floyd died. If they witness something like this, speak up, interfere, don’t just follow orders, be uncomfortable enough with injustice to do something. Don’t settle for anything less than removing that officer’s knee from George Floyd’s neck.
It’s not just interacting with police, it’s about interacting with each other. Understand where others are coming from which is certainly easier said than done. Listen. Have empathy. Think about your own perspectives as an adult and what you would like your children to understand. Here is a video that can help to give more perspective on the issue.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood of Volusia County, Florida explained via Facebook:
“I asked every member of the Volusia Sheriff’s Office to watch the George Floyd footage, discuss it and realize if you’re in that situation, you have to step up, step in and get his knee off his neck. You need to know that law enforcement officers all over this county and country felt the same way you did when they saw that horrific video.”Sherriff Mike Chitwood
2. Battle Mistrust And Turn Tension Into Communication
As a parent, we teach our kids to be fair and treat others as we would like to be treated. In a situation where there is a power figure and that power figure may not respect you in return, can be difficult to navigate for parents. Although police are supposed to be the peacemakers and helpers in our community and indeed many police officers are, that can’t be said for all, particularly for a young black man.
Miscommunication with police has deadly outcomes.
There have been instances where a black person is clearly communicating but the fear of the police officer still resulted in deadly outcomes. Until we can come up with better solutions to fix a systemic problem, as parents, we could consider teaching our kids how to be overly gracious, overcompensate, knowing this because of racial disparities in policing.
3. Teach the Police’s Point Of View
Understand that from the police standpoint, they are constantly exposed to new situations that can be unpredictable and in themselves could turn deadly for them too. Understand that it is two strangers that are meeting one another, one of which is entitled to basic information (the police). This doesn’t mean you are waiving all of your constitutional rights, nor should you, but it is important to speak to your children about their rights and if they are confused, to always contact a lawyer.
Understand that while overcompensating feels unfair, at this time, it is necessary to de-escalate interactions with police. Practice how one would speak to a police officer. Simply telling your kids to have respect in this instance may not be enough and practicing different scenarios even where the police officer could potentially feel as they are being disrespected in turn, how to deal with such situations.
4. Cooperate, Listen, And Ask For A Lawyer
The time to contest the arrest, search, or whatever the situation may be, is not at the scene, it’s in the courtroom. Cooperation does not mean you have to incriminate yourself.
As parents, we want our children, the future generation to be better than ours. Perhaps it will be the next generation to heal the current divide, that has shown its ugly nature and tragic side in recent weeks. By educating ourselves, talking to one another, and listening, we will come together, in kindness, in empathy, and respect. So that one day, we can truly say that what happened to George Floyd will never happen again. It’s not a Whites vs Blacks thing, it’s an Everyone vs Racism thing which should be the standard rather than the exception.
Be kind to one another,
Jeri from Daytona Beach Mom &
Tina East from RacingAroundtheGlobe.com
More About Tina East
Tina is the mom behind “Racing Around the Globe” blog where she shares bits and pieces of her life in Florida with her husband and son. You can often find them hanging out at the racetrack and traveling the globe if she is not working in her trade as a nurse practitioner and nurse researcher. Tina and Jeri became fast friends through being moms at the same school and their kids sharing the same extracurricular interests. You can also follow her on Instagram.
Did you miss our latest parenting article? Check out The Pandemic’s Psychological Impact On Our Children.