A few weeks ago, my four-year-old started asking me difficult questions around police, and why people are holding signs above their heads. As questions came up, my wife and I talked privately, to understand where they’re coming from. My children are bi-racial, and it’s difficult trying to tell any four-year-old everything that’s happening. My first worry was that she was getting this from what I was watching on TV, something that I’d had on. Thinking through it, I realized that I never watch things like that when she is there. After stressing all night, it dawned on me that her class was talking about it. And she’s one of the only Black kids in her class. Naturally, I worried she might be getting asked things she’s too young to know and has no idea about.
After talking to friends, I learned many of them were in similar situations. We were all trying to share what was happening in a way that would make sense to our children. A friend of mine experiencing the same issue and I decided to have an educational session to teach our children. That session led to what happened next.
Making a March
My friend and I decided to organize a march. We felt it would be powerful, and cute, to have a solidarity walk for kids and families in our neighborhood. So, I sent a few emails, he sent a few emails, mostly sharing with people we knew. Those people shared it with others, and, at one point, someone posted the event on a neighborhood app called Next Door. We were excited because we estimated we were going to have about 75-100 people for our walk.
I’m proud to say the 100 people we estimated actually turned out to be 2,500 and 99% of them were non-Black. As a Black man, I can say we don’t feel like we are heard. Marches and protests have given us an opportunity, allowed us to have a voice. At that march, it felt like we had someone in our corner, amplifying our voice.
Marching for Equality, Change and Understanding
The march wasn’t a protest. It was a solidarity walk. We were marching for equality. After meeting in a park, we walked together for a mile before walking back. I’m sure people came to the event to make their voice heard, to show they were an ally. But, at its core, the march was to create an understanding for kids, especially my kids. They’re old enough to know they’re not the same as the other kids in their classes, that there’s something different. With this march we hoped to show that it was okay to be different, and that being different didn’t mean you shouldn’t be treated as equal.
As a parent, you want to make it as easy as possible for your kids. In my childhood and adolescent years, I experienced racism. I heard slurs. I sat outside friends’ homes because their parents didn’t want me inside, because of the color of my skin. I had encounters that made me fear for my life. As a parent, I want my kids to grow up without any of that. I want to teach them that just because they aren’t like the other kids doesn’t mean they’re anything less.
What Comes Next
Change doesn’t happen because of one person, one protest or one march. I am grateful for those who continue pushing for real change. For Black men and women, it’s tiring to use your voice and feel unheard. We need others to help us with this movement. We need allies. It’s uplifting to hear how diverse the protests have been over the past few weeks and months. But, even with so much hope for change, even big movements die out. Don’t let that happen. Keep awareness up by continuing to talk about the issue at hand.
The thought of trying to change decades old policies is overwhelming. But think about your world, the places you go and the people you interact with. Think about what you can do on that level. Whether its supporting Black businesses, marching for equality, helping others register to vote or letting someone know their joke was inappropriate, you can impact change in your sphere. Educate yourself, form groups to exchange knowledge and always, always remain aware of other’s perspectives. If we work together, if we keep the awareness up, if we support the people who can champion equitable legislation, we can achieve change.