The only wrong thing to say, is to say nothing: Resources on race and racism for parents and families of all ages
By Leah Persky, PhD, CFLE-P • Family Life Education Manager
So much has happened in the past month and so many of us are grappling with what we can do to fight the systematic injustices and racism that pervade our country today. Jewish people are no stranger to prejudice, discrimination and being a group scapegoated for society’s ills. Our historical, and personal experiences of direct or indirect discrimination further compel us to be a force for good and to stand up to injustices in our society. Most Jewish Americans carry with us the ancestral knowledge and fear of persecution – we must each do what we can to fight for love and justice and security.
Many feel overwhelmed about how to best respond in a meaningful way. This can lead to a sense of being overwhelmed, which often leads to inaction. We must work to create positive change in society, and to honor and remember the many who have tragically lost their lives to police brutality, racism and injustice. George Floyd, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and the hundreds of others that have been killed by police, just in the past few years, must be remembered. We must continue to say their names and fight for justice. For a moving discussion of this topic, see the following sources: NPR Code Switch Saytheirnameslistv4 and NPR’s A Decade of Watching Black People Die.
In order to avoid feeling a sense of hopelessness and fear, which so many of us have experienced these past weeks, our Family Life Education department wanted to share with you some of our favorite resources and ideas. These curated resources will hopefully help you to continue the work of raising awareness, talking with children and family/friends, and participating in creating the positive change we all so sorely need right now. No doubt you have seen some of the amazing resources, emails and newsletters which have been making the rounds lately. Here are some of our favorites:
- Reading for Adults: Raising White Kids: Bringing up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey and White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- National Museum of African American History and Culture- Talking about Race. This has lots of useful talking points and ideas to spur discussion for parents, caretakers and educators. There is so much to explore here in a very accessible way. Inspires each person to think about their own unique identity and what comes along with it.
- 10 Tips for Talking to Kids about Race from Embrace Race, including an action guide
- Sesame Street explains Black Lives Matter in support of coming together and standing up to racism. Elmo’s dad explains racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a great way to start the discussion with young children, in an age-appropriate and understandable way.
- Excellent resource for having meaningful discussions about race and racial injustice with children of all ages from PJ Library – this is an excellent way to explore the topic with a Jewish lens.
- Explore your own biases and privilege and maybe start a meaningful conversation with your family. This is a great way to become more mindful of our own views as adults. Many of these would also be appropriate for high school-aged and older children. Here are two of my favorite online tools. Harvard: Project Implicit (you can select from a number of topics to test yourself anonymously) and BuzzFeed, How Privileged are You?
Now, back to the title of this article. The only wrong thing to say, is to say nothing. These inspiring words were spoken by Meghan Markle at a recent virtual commencement speech; they help to keep me going and have these tough and needed conversations with my kids and family members and community. They inspire me to write letters, speak out and fight for good and for love. I hope they inspire you too. To see her speech, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok4oPJjsiPA