Dear Dr. Debbie,
To say these past three months have been challenging is an understatement.
The outburst of grief and anger, and outpourings of solidarity, related to racial prejudice after the murder of George Floyd brought new challenges to our family discussions.
Without any firm plans for this summer (around Daddy and Mommy still telecommuting, and no camp for the kids), I’m worried about what the summer of COVID-19 will hold. Our ten- and twelve-year-old children are eager to be active in this social justice movement, but can we do this from home?
Planning For the Unplannable
So much is different this year. You’re still safer at home until reliable testing and effective vaccines are available.
Summer used to be a relief from the rush of overloaded schedules during the school year. But we’ve been “stuck” at home for three months. Then came the explosive reaction to ongoing acts of violence against African Americans and other minority groups who have been experiencing continued discrimination across this country. The recharged civil rights movement promises to make important positive changes, long overdue.
While we are still limited in our interactions outside of our families, the family is where this important work can take place.
Agents of change are at work. Just as scientists, medical professionals, social service providers, and others are actively addressing the global disaster of the pandemic, so too are legions of change makers actively righting the wrongs of racial inequities. EmbraceRace , a non-profit organization endeavoring to meet the challenges of raising children in a world where race matters, reminds us to talk with our children about people who have been examples of steadfast persistence. Let your children know that this has been a long struggle, but also give them stories of lives of inspiration. Go online to learn together about Booker T. Washington, Cesar Chavez, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Thurgood Marshall and others. Virtually visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture to learn about contemporary figures who are spreading anti-racism today including Brené Brown, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Ibram X Kendi, and Audre Lorde.
Try curbside pickup at your public library https://www.aacpl.net/ after reserving some books from the list on the Social Justice Books website. Anne Arundel County Public Schools also has a booklist on the topic of racism for 4th grade and up, available online for students through MackinVia.
What actions do your children want to take? Plenty can be done from home. They can call or write elected representatives to express their views on the issues.
Suggest they get their friends involved! Read and discuss the same books, or watch a movie together – in separate homes while texting. Suggested titles include Remember the Titans, Hidden Figures, Akeela and the Bee, Ruby Bridges, and The Color of Friendship. Children can create art to be displayed outside their homes. You can share their artwork, as well as spoken word and songs, on social media. Their messages could spread like the virus, but in a good way.
Your children might host a video meeting with their friends from school to learn and share with each other about this movement. Is there a scout leader or other youth worker they could ask to be involved? This would be a great project between two youth groups that differ in their racial makeup. Solidarity is key. Local chapters of Black Lives Matter Black Lives Matter DC, and Showing Up for Racial Justice (Baltimore and D.C.) might be interested in guiding and growing a group of racially diverse tweens.
Scroll through the Racial Justice Listserve for the Mid-Atlantic Region to find a comprehensive list of relevant events, news, and contacts.
Sitting at home, doesn’t have to mean being idle. Not doing anything about the problem, no matter what the color of your skin, contributes to the problem. The continuous involvement of people in this country’s racial majority will be essential to the dismantling of systemic racism.
This could be an amazing summer.
Deborah Wood, Ph.D. is a child development specialist with degrees in Early Childhood Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Workshops for parents, teachers, and childcare professionals can be found at: drdebbiewood.com.
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What do you think? Email your comments or questions to Dr. Debbie at editor[at]chesapeakefamily.com