How to address the tough topic of racism with your children

Talking to your children about racism

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s a difficult subject at any age. Race and racism. But with the death of George Floyd, followed by protests, children of every age are watching and listening. Their eyes are glued to TVs and social media sites that show violent images some parents are struggling to explain.

The power of technology makes it hard to escape the video of Floyd’s death. The image of the officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck and the violent protests that followed are part of a never-ending news cycle that can traumatize any child.

“Sick to my stomach is really the feeling I’ve been having,” said Courtney Griffin, the mother of 11-year-old Carson.

Griffin, like many parents, struggles to find the words to answer her son’s one question, “Why is this happening?”

“I was afraid that if I told him all that was going on it would create a sense of fear that an 11-year-old boy, in all his innocence, heading to middle school doesn’t need to face,” she said.

“You cannot wait to talk to your children about discrimination or race,” said Candyce “Ce” Anderson, a licensed therapist.

Anderson said while the talk is not easy, it should not be avoided.

“There are studies that show that our children, little black boys, start becoming criminalized in the eyes of their teachers as young as 3 years old," she said. "So, it’s important to have this conversation as early as possible.”

Before the conversation begins, she said start by addressing your own bias.

“It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m not a racist,’ because that says I’m not in it," Anderson said. "If you’re not in it, you can’t be an active art of the solution.”

A conversation about race and racism we once though we could put off for another day is now a necessary lesson about life.

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