As a therapist and as a white mom, one of the most common challenges that I see other white parents of kids of color and specifically with Black children struggling with is how to have “the talk.” With “the talk” being code for preparing your child as best as possible to stay safe in a racist society specifically around interacting with the police. As white moms, this is not a talk that we received as children and it’s likely because of our white privilege it’s not something we really thought much about until our children became part of our lives. We know our children need us to really step up when it comes to this issue though we often feel anxious and at a loss of how to approach it at the same time.
Let’s break this down by exploring what this looks like and how to go about it. “The talk” is actually an on-going conversation that you will have throughout your child’s life that includes issues of structural racism, oppression, privilege, and white cultural supremacy. It also includes advocacy, activism, and change. As a white mom, this means that I have to do a lot of self-education, be very self aware, consistently check in on my progress, understand my responsibility to be part of creating change, and follow the lead of Black people and people of color.
Discuss what’s actually happening. Have you heard about what happened to Lucca Rolle? Lucca a 15 year old student that became a victim of police violence on his way home from school the other day. If you didn’t hear about it check out Shaun King’s The Breakdown podcast episode to get a better understanding of the magnitude of what this means for our youth and what actions we can take to demand justice for Lucca. This incident happened only about 30-40 minutes from where I live and nearby to where the Parkland school shooting happened a little over a year ago. Because of its close proximity to Parkland, the disparities are even more obvious. It is highly unlikely that it will receive the same attention, resources, and funding that Parkland did to address the trauma that the community is experiencing. Here’s a book that can be helpful to use with your kids to talk about it: Something Happened in Our Town
Pay attention to your child’s trauma response. Seeing this happen on the news, hearing about it from friends and family, and experiencing it can cause your child to respond with a variety of emotions. Listen to what they are telling you and see how their behaviors are a response to their emotions. Feelings of anxiety, depression, and symptoms of PTSD can sometimes show up. Sometimes it also can be seen as increased risk taking behaviors and self-medicating through substance use. Teaching them about all of the activists and organizations that have worked and are fighting everyday to end this violence can be very uplifting and inspiring. Let them see what you are doing to end this violence (I’ll share more on this after). Here’s an example from the #justiceforlucca rally of inspiring activists: Black Live Matter Alliance Broward
Talk to other white people. Make sure this conversation is also happening with the other white people in your life. Find out how much they understand about systemic racism and police violence. Help them learn ways that they can be part of ending it including voting for certain candidates, donating money to organizations working towards ending it, and bringing it up as a priority in white spaces they may be part of including churches, community organizations, and schools. If your child of color has white siblings make sure you are addressing this conversation with them as wel.
Question, challenge, and show up. This is an area where your child really needs you. Assess how your community is dealing with police violence and how you can support the work that is being done to end it. How does your child’s school address this issue and approach these conversations? Is it supportive of what your child needs? Specifically around issues of trauma. When Parkland happened, the teachers, school administrators, and school counselors all received specialized training in dealing with community trauma and continue to receive support. They even offered free training for therapists in the community on how to work with clients dealing with communal trauma (which I know because I attended.) The same could be done to address the community trauma caused by police violence. If you are connected with a religious institution how are they addressing it? Think of ways that you can help to make this issue a priority in your community. Our white privilege often gives us access to people in power and spaces that don’t typically address these issues. Use your power to help bring about the change we need. Let’s work together to build a world that is safe for our kids.
Would you like more support on multiracial parenting? Here’s how we can help:
- If you are part of a multiracial family and would like to connect with other parents and feel supported on issues like this and other, join us in the Multracial Parenting Network.
- Sign up for our weekly newsletter and receive tips, advice, and articles like this straight to your inbox.
- Schedule a free 20 minute call with Rorri Geller-Mohamed, LCSW a therapist that specializes in multiracial parenting to see how we can help. Be the first to hear about our new program to provide support, guidance, and community for moms raising kids in a multiracial family. We are still in the development phase and would love to hear what you are looking for and how we can provide what you need. Send an email to Rorri@upowerchange.com to schedule with the subject: FREE CONSULT