Monday, July 15, 2013

Motivation for Monday - Teach Your Children Well

My Trusty Gavel
Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Brian Turner

Last night I sat down with my 13 and 11 year old daughters and explained the ruling in the Martin/Zimmerman case. I spoke in an impartial tone and explained the situation as I’ve been reading. I told them no one really knows what happened except those 2 individuals. We talked about the item found in Trayvon Martin’s pocket, the bag of Skittles.

Then I let my young ones come to their own conclusions. Which, not surprisingly, are similar to mine.

Our girls are at the age where everything Edd and I say is gospel truth. They don’t yet question our political views, the reason for our house rules, or our faith beliefs. They will. I’m under no illusion my kids will think we are the smartest man and woman on earth forever. 

For the short time I am the smartest woman on the planet, my teachings are their foundations. I’m sure I’ve already screwed up enough to warrant therapy after they finish graduate school, but there are values I’m adamant to instill so deep into their souls they won’t even know their lives exist without it: tolerance and justice.

The only way to teach tolerance and justice is to live tolerant and fight injustice ourselves. Edd. Me. My parents. Edd’s parents. YOU. This one is our responsibility.

Big talk from the Christian privileged, upper socio-economic, heterosexual girl with so much Western European blood flowing through her veins she practically glows in the dark, huh?

My life is what it is. My job is to make certain my girls know this isn’t the ONLY life there is. 

I pray when my children are my age, they look back on the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman verdict as the “bad, old days”. The days when people noticed skin color instead of the hearts that beat inside of us. It is not impossible. But it is up to us.

The girls and their uncle.
Shhh. Don't tell them he's not my brother by blood.
Until that time, let us recite Mother Teresa’s prayer often:

O God, we pray for all those in our world
who are suffering from injustice:
For those who are discriminated against
because of their race, color or religion;
For those imprisoned
for working for the relief of oppression;
For those who are hounded
for speaking the inconvenient truth;
For those tempted to violence
as a cry against overwhelming hardship;
For those deprived of reasonable health and education;
For those suffering from hunger and famine;
For those too weak to help themselves
and who have no one else to help them;
For the unemployed who cry out
for work but do not find it.
We pray for anyone of our acquaintance
who is personally affected by injustice.
Forgive us, Lord, if we unwittingly share in the conditions
or in a system that perpetuates injustice.
Show us how we can serve your children
and make your love practical by washing their feet.

On which values do you concentrate most in your home? 
In what ways do you teach your children tolerance?
If you don’t have kids, are you participating in the “village” of helping to raise the kids of others?

Related Posts:
Pursuing Justice
10 Activities to Encourage Compassion in Our Children

3 comments:

  1. Jessica BallantiJuly 15, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Once again, thank you Andee, for saying the hard things and for addressing this. I also spoke with my kids this morning - trying to keep it age appropriate for my young ones, but reiterating that no one deserves to be treated differently based on how they look or their physical or mental abilities. It is hard though, because I think young ones have a certain amount of color-blindness innately, and I don't want to make it an issue before they are aware there IS an issue. Kids are just kids to them - people are just people. I don't know when we transition to an "us" and "them" mentality in this regard - I think it is a pretty subconscious thing. I suppose it is something we will revisit often as they grow and mature in their understanding and experience of the world.

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  2. You know, my girls are STILL color blind. I want to say this all hip-like we've got it all together. In the activities we participate in, skin color is in every shade. However, we are white. This is my perception. Do the kids with darker skin feel everyone is color-blind, or do they have a different story?


    I pray they never, ever notice. Like I said above, this needs to be OUR job. I can't see growing up in a tolerant household and then becoming racist later in life. It may happen, but I bet not often.

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  3. I'm so glad people talk to their kids at a time like this. It seems way too often that people feel that they can't talk to their kids if they don't have answers to provide them.


    I don't have kids, but I have pretty much raised my nephew for the last five or so years (Freshman in college currently, thank you very much). Unfortunately, kids with darker skin don't have the luxury of thinking everyone is color blind. Experience tells us much differently.


    But I honestly don't think color blind is the issue. It's more about the negative association that comes with a racist mindset. I'm African-American and fairly proud of that fact. There are things that that means and things that that doesn't. I don't mind talking about my experience as an African-American with anyone. But assumptions made about me, based on my race, that play on fear or distrust are problematic. But I'm a grown man and can somewhat take care of myself.


    My nephew, is a kid who doesn't have a car who walks around with his iPhone earbuds in when he's walking from place to place. I make fun of him because he rarely pays attention to his surroundings and I have seen him walk into street lamps. (He's book smart, okay.) But now I think of what others are thinking of him when he's just trying to get from work to school or between classes or go visit a friend or whatever.


    You try to teach kids that what other people think about you doesn't matter. It's a good lesson, but one that isn't necessarily that useful for him. Not only is he African-American, but he's also gay and the number of people who would attack him for the simple fact of what they think of those things is way more than it should be.


    It sucks not to be able to teach kids basic lessons about good and evil and right and wrong. I wish I could tell him it doesn't matter what people think of him. But what people think of him has very real world effects. And for him, specifically, very dangerous threats.


    But he's smart, and in college and doing what he should be doing and that's going to have to be enough. I just wish it was enough for everyone else.

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