by Sharon H. Chang
On Thursday morning, July 14, I had the honor of talking on-air with Minelle Mahtani -- author of Mixed Race Amnesia and host of Sense of Place at Roundhouse Radio -- about race, tragedy, parenting and our kids. Of course we did this show to engage with a string of recent tragic shootings that have left many reeling: the mass shooting of queer people of color (predominantly Latinx) at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL, which resulted in 49 deaths; the highly publicized police shootings which killed two Black men - Alton Sterling and Philando Castile - in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, respectively; and the subsequent mass shooting of police officers in Dallas, TX, at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, which resulted in 5 officer deaths. And sadly much more has happened since.
Minelle and I took questions via email, tweet and call-in. Parents and teachers asked, how do we broach this incredibly painful subject of racism and escalating violence with children? It is more and more obvious that we have to as our children pick up and absorb the increasing myriad of racialized messages being delivered by society about these tragedies. We’re seeing, hearing, observing our kids using race and racist words and ideas, and they’re also starting to ask us really tough questions. What is our response? How do we know what’s age appropriate? When do we start? What if we frighten our kids or leave them depressed with hopelessness? How do we find time and space to even begin said conversations when we don’t have a lot of time and space ourselves?