Why You Can (and Should) Take Your Kids to Protests.
There's no denying the world feels like it's on fire right now.
And like a lot of people I really hear that call. If you're behind Black Lives Matter and looking for a way to offer solidarity to the movement, there's lots of things you can do. Protesting is just one of those ways.
I wouldn't consider myself an active protester, but I've taken my kids a few times to a few different protests and marches.
I'm a white, heterosexual, middle-class, professional mom who grew up in largely white middle-class areas of Canada and England. I'm telling you that for context, because if you grew up differently, you probably have different reasons for wanting to attend, or have different safety concerns than I do.
So, here's why I take my kids to protests for causes I want to give support to, and why you might want to too.
White parents need to start have this conversation anyway.
Parents of Black kids have "the conversation" with their kids at like, five. Sometimes younger. It's heartbreaking. There's a lot of different things you can read and watch on this conversation. Generally, it seems like the conversation starts something like "People who don't know you might think you're a bad person because of the colour of your skin..." Black families and kids don't get the luxury of postponing this conversation because it's inconvenient or uncomfortable. They have to keep their family safe. And alive.
So, sure, as a white person, maybe it's not easy to decide when or how to start the conversation. Taking kids to a march or protest is probably one of the best, and most empowering ways to start the ongoing conversation with your kids. They need to understand the privilege they have and how they can stand in solidarity with other people who don't have that same privilege.
The conversation can go something like this "We're going out later today. There's something bad happening, and it's been happening for a while. Today we're going to meet up with some other people who think it's bad too, and we're going to tell everyone we want it to stop..."
Kids should know what agency and change look and feel like.
If you're paying attention, the world needs some serious work right now. On a lot of different fronts. Systemic racism, climate change, economic inequalities are all bearing down on us as humans. The current set up doesn't feel sustainable, or even survivable. The systems that aren't serving us aren't going to evolve without our efforts. Change doesn't just happen. It's happens because we make it change.
I want my kids to feel comfortable and bold when they want change. I want them to feel the power of their own agency. I want them to know you can lend that agency to other people who don't have as much as you. I want them to feel the thrill of defiance in the face of authority.
Because that defiance feels fucking great. And allowing your kids to live in that space, sets them up for a lifetime of standing up to bullshit.
You're needed and wanted there.
As long as you've checked ahead of time about the organizers, and they are expecting a family freindly event, the chances are you'll be at a safe, emotional and loving experience with people who welcome families.
There's going to be a time in the future where your kids are going to ask about this time. The time of COVID-19, of huge economic disruption, of cancelled school and of Black Lives Matter.
What do want to be able to say to your kids? What will they remember about this time? Ask yourself, right now, if you're going to have an answer you're going to be proud of in the future. And if not, why not? One thing I've heard Black, and other people of colour say this week, is that white people need to sit in the discomfort of participating in a racist system and admit they've benefited. And then act. So, it's time for my family. Is it for yours?