The other morning, my 9 year old daughter comes into the kitchen and says, “Mom, how would you describe Gary Clark Jr.?”
I replied, “A tall, Black man who is a great singer/songwriter/musician and plays really good guitar.”
So then she asks me to describe her dad/my husband. I stopped and said, “Oh I see what you have done. Would I describe your dad as a white man? No. I wouldn’t have put that in there. But I did put Gary Clark Jr.’s skin colour in my description. Wow.”
Then we had a bit more of a discussion about this. Is it bad that I described Gary Clark Jr. as a Black man? And why don’t I describe my husband as a white man? Should I not use anyone’s skin colour to describe them? Or should I always state someone’s skin colour? I don’t actually have these answers. If anyone wanted to throw in their thoughts about this, I would be super grateful to be helped along in my efforts to learn more and do better.
Then my daughter says that she was reading this great book at school – George, by Alex Gino. In the book, they introduce a character at the beginning, then halfway into the book, they describe the character as having brown skin. This blows my daughter’s mind because she had pictured this character with white skin for half the book.
I thought this was a pretty cool conversation to be having with my 9 year old. And I am not sharing this to say that my daughter is special. I believe that all kids are capable of having these types of social justice, real world conversations at much younger ages than we give them credit for. Kids are hungry for these types of conversations.
I believe that by having these truthful, respectful conversations with our children, about real life issues, and then pairing these conversations with actions kids can take to help make things better, we can raise our kids to be confident, empowered, passionate, inspired, empathetic leaders and decision makers. Rather than what we are seeing a lot of, which is kids who are anxious, apathetic, angry and depressed because the world is overwhelmingly bad and they don’t know where they can fit into any solution.
This is exactly what we are working on over in our World-Changing Kids Learning Community – a subscription-based Facebook group where we delve into a new social justice topic each week in a safe, supportive community where we can all learn more and do better together!
Click here for more info.