Hope is very into party planning right now.
Yesterday, she planned a carnival for our family to participate in, complete with individual tickets for each activity – tickets she spent two hours making.
One of the carnival activities was CHALK, something we’ve been doing a lot of throughout the pandemic.
I grabbed my chalk and began writing the first thing that popped into my mind: BLACK LIVES MATTER.
I wrote it big and proud down the center of our driveway.
Hope, always curious, immediately asked me what I was writing. I told her.
In response she said, “Is that because we’re killing black people?”
I was stunned by her question and asked, “How did you know that, Hope?”
She looked at me aghast, “Because of the story you’ve been telling me.”
It’s true. We’ve been talking to Hope openly and honestly for the last two weeks about George Floyd’s death, trying to use developmentally-appropriate language to help her understand what’s been going on.
It’s something that we’ve talked about A LOT.
I know that Hope’s been listening but still, I was stunned that she was able to connect the phrase, “Black Lives Matter” to the story we’d been telling her about George Floyd’s death. It seemed like such a developmental leap for a five-year old to be able to do that, especially to a phrase that I don’t recall ever actually saying to her.
Hope watched me for a second before grabbing some chalk of her own and asking, “How can I help?”
Together, we decided that our message should be accentuated by hearts. So I drew some hearts for Hope to color in.
As she did, she said, “I hope they will listen to us.”
I brushed away my tears and said, “I do too baby. I do too.”
We continued coloring.
Eventually Hope looked at me and said, “Even though we’re white, that doesn’t mean that we can’t like black people.”
She then referenced a black friend from school and said, “Even though he’s black, he’s my friend.”
When we moved two years ago, we were dismayed to learn exactly how white our new suburb was. (And shame on us for not realizing just how true that was BEFORE we moved.)
Nevertheless, having realized that, we made the decision to send Hope to a very diverse Montessori school. I’ve been thankful for that decision a hundred times… But never more so than yesterday as we sat chalking our driveway.
While so much of racism is systemic, racism is also taught.
But if racism is taught and learned then maybe anti-racism can be, too.
Parents - That starts with us.
Our kids hear everything. They’re listening. And they’re watching.
Let’s teach them to do better.
Let’s teach them that black lives matter; That our economic and justice systems in the United States have not been designed to allow black people to flourish; That systemic racism has contributed to white privilege and white success for centuries.
And that as followers of Jesus, we have a responsibility to seek justice.
What’s more, we have a responsibility to do justice.
Parents - Our kids are listening.
But they’re also speaking. And they’re hoping we’re listening too.