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Experts encourage parents to speak to children about anti-Black racism, police brutality

Parents encouraged to speak to children about anti-Black racism
With recent protests across North America, parents are being encouraged to open up dialogue with the children and begin discussing anti-Black racism. Morganne Campbell reports.

Parents are being encouraged to speak to their children about anti-Black racism, police brutality and protests across North America.

As these events unfold on both sides of the border, experts said parents should remember their children may be watching these events unfold on television and online.

“People are angry, tired and in pain, and this generation of youth have not seen anti-Black racism at this level before,” said Carl James, a professor leading education expert on Black youth and race relations at York University.

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“That’s the reason why parents need to talk to their children to help them understand what is happening.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says ‘we all have a role’ in confronting racism amid George Floyd solidarity protests

James said parents should talk to kids about injustices against Black people and how systemic racism works, saying an easy way to do that is through the context of Black history.

“White families, non-Black families and Black families all need to help their children interpret what is going on around them and the role that race plays,” James said.

“Explain why this is happening and what Black people are experiencing that triggered these anti-police protests.”

Canadians living in U.S. react to mass rioting across many states
Canadians living in U.S. react to mass rioting across many states

Parenting experts suggest these are ‘teachable moments’ for children and encourage open, honest and transparent dialogue, which can include encouraging family to get involved in causes they believe in.

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READ MORE: City of Toronto examining how anti-Black racism impacts mental health

“We’re trying to teach compassion and kindness for everyone and children are innocent. They don’t have a negative or positive connotation to anything and it’s what they see and what they hear, so talk about those groups,” explained Reena B. Patel, a parenting expert, licensed educational psychologist and author.

“Have the dialogue, have the discussion and talk about what is right from wrong. It’s really important to take a stand.”

Experts say witnessing anti-Black racism at this level drives home the importance of dialogue — not just between kids and parents, but community leaders and educators.