On Sunday, my first attempt to talk to Sam about what was going on in Charlottesville and around the country did not go well. We were walking to the Y, and after he heard me say; “KKK” he said; “Enough. I’ve heard enough.”
He is absolutely right. He is twelve. He does not need to hear his white mother talking about how the KKK and Nazi party is marching, beating, and killing people south of us. I felt horrible. But I also knew I had to frame this for him, and Marcel before the world did. So I took space, read a few articles, talked to Shrek, and asked God for help. Then I started from this premise: What do they he need to hear?
So, when we sat down I started off this way; “Our country, our state, our city, our neighborhood is populated by people who believe in every cell of their bodies that all people are created equal. They believe that all people need to be and feel safe, and are determined more than ever to making certain that such a place will be the country, and the world they leave to their children. Your parents, your friends’ parents, your extended family, your teachers and so many of the people we interact with all the time are deeply committed to keeping the world safe for you and all those under attack. We will not allow hatred and ignorance to intimidate or attempt to harm or take away the rights of people who do not look like them.”
From here we talked very briefly about how a small group of people who live with hatred and fear in their hearts for reasons we can only imagine gathered in Virginia seeking audience for their beliefs. We talked about how five times as many people showed up to show them that their beliefs are backwards, unwanted, and not welcomed.
The boys asked questions about why these racist ogres were allowed to be so hateful, and why the police could not stop them from yelling violence inciting slogans and words. We wondered out loud how they learned such hatred.
We talked about going to the rally that evening in town, and they were both afraid of going, which was completely understandable. I could not promise them they would be safe there. I didn’t try to. That night both boys woke me up with more questions and need for reassurance.
While this conversation was going on Marcel was surrounding a group of Playmobil characters with his police characters. He has begun playing with them again, and the only characters he has been drawn to this time around are the police force. They are constantly catching bad guys who are breaking out of jails. So yesterday I found this for him at the Reny’s in town. He was the only officer on the shelf.
If you are looking for resources to help you feel as if you are riding one of those in your conversation, here is a great starting place. I would also encourage all of my readers to craft a letter to your child’s teacher, with that link, or this one (The first thing teachers should do when school starts is talk about the hatred in America-Here’s how) and why you believe this is necessary. Make sure to copy the principal, and members of the school board. Then follow up the email with deep gratitude for the hard work they do. I would also bring in a coffee gift card, flowers, and a huge box of pencils.. But that is just me.