Boycott

I have been following the (original) NFL boycott for a few months. It would be easy to ignore since we don’t watch football, but it’s not about football, it’s about injustice and I wanted to address it with the kids.

We happened to go to an NFL pre-season game in August, and our 6-year old was super into it. She wanted to know all about EVERYTHING. From cheerleaders to rules. We touched on a lot of topics since she was being a sponge.

Why are those girls there? I just realized my 6-year old daughter had no idea what a cheerleader was. My husband used to work with a professional cheerleader, so he discussed how they actually aren’t paid that well in addition to other aspects, like sexualizing girls/women.

Why do only boys play football? That was a good one. We talked about how some sports are sometimes predominately played by one gender, but there were girls and women who played football at other levels. We even saw two girls wearing jerseys in a local homecoming parade last week. Jerseys being the key word, because other females were wearing t-shirts with the team name, and not jerseys with a name and number on them.

What are those signs? Ah, the advertising talk. Everything here is trying to sell you something. We pretty much leave it at that. Someone is always trying to make you want something so you’ll give them money.

Why don’t we watch football? That was an interesting one as well, as the list has added up! I enjoy watching football, but have never really cared enough to follow it. Besides the consumerism and the inappropriate commercials for children, the concussion and CTE controversy made it difficult to watch after my husband experienced a severe concussion from a biking accident. I was just increasingly uncomfortable with watching, to the point that seeing hits was giving me a visceral reaction.

With some of that background knowledge, and a nice assortment of books I had just gotten from the library, including some on Rosa Parks, it was easy to discuss the NFL boycott when our daughter had overheard it on the radio.

Our reading on Rosa Parks was perfectly timed, laying the groundwork for boycotting for social change.

These two books were similar in story layout, details, and language. The Zinn Education Project has a great article on teaching this subject to kids, and these two books seem to address a lot of the issues typically glossed over such as her involvement with the NAACP and how long the boycott lasted (over a year). The best part of this article is discussing that not every child can be the “hero” (Rosa Parks and now Colin Kaepernick), but it is easy to imagine being a participant in the boycott.

“As a tale of a social movement and a community effort to overthrow injustice, the Rosa Parks story opens the possibility of every child identifying herself or himself as an activist, as someone who can help make justice happen.”

It was an accessible way to discuss history and current events with a 6-year old.  I plan on asking her if she knows what the word boycott means in the next few days.

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Baby Steps

Sometimes I wish I could download all of my knowledge on a topic directly to my kids. It’s easy as a parent to want to tell them how to do things the “right” way and forget that the learning they get along the journey is important.

I find that my need to get to a certain outcome or address a specific topic often impedes the conversation. Instead of opening the door and allowing for conversation, I sometimes shove them through.

I read “Explaining Charlottesville To My Seven Year Old” by Nicole Lee and it really helped me process a key idea I’ve been ignoring in my desire to have important conversations with the kids…It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I enjoyed the whole article, but the last section was what I connected with the most this week. There will always be the next conversation. A conversation with a 3 or 6-year old, may not be earth shattering, but it is definitely laying the groundwork for “longer and richer” conversations.

The second piece of media that hit me in a similar way was an episode of 1A on NPR about dystopian novels. The whole show was pretty interesting, but there was a specific part that I really enjoyed: 17-19:30 minutes, where one of the guests talks about the difference in how he sees dystopian literature pre and post children.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/544276799/544279926

“Doing nothing isn’t an option…Doing something that materially improves your situation sometimes reveals another step you can take…Find one step that takes you a little farther toward a better future”

These two different pieces with the same idea were helpful to me this week. One step at a time we can open the doors. We might not know the end result of the conversation, but doing one thing you know is a beneficial step may help the next step become clearer.

 

Media for kids to listen to immediately!

Two of my favorite sources for children’s media Sparkle Stories and Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child have done a beautiful thing.

Sparkle Stories released three free stories on diversity. Our family has listened to the first two so far, and they led to some great conversations about why people decide they don’t like someone who is different than them and why different opinions are valuable. My almost 4 year old doesn’t engage much with the stories or conversation after, but listens quietly.  My 6 year old has a lot to say about them and she likes to listen to them while she colors. The post has a lovely description and some tips for conversation. You can even download them for later!

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Diversity Stories

Next up: Spare the Rock is a music show for kids. This week, the show will focus on music performed by people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, as well as some songs on topic of the events and don’t forget about hope!  Bill (the man in charge) has a great post to on his feelings with a song just for adults 😉

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LISTEN!

I hope you and your family enjoy, and let me know how any conversations go!

 

Talking to your kids after racially motivated violence

I wanted to share some resources to help you talk to your kids after the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this weekend.  My kids are still a bit young to hear news on their own (3 and 6), so it’s up to me to bring up important events. I know a lot of other mothers think their kids are too young to discuss these tough topics, but they are not. It may be easier to take a wait and see approach, letting them come to you about issues, but early and consistent discussions will open the door for continued dialogue. First, I want to acknowledge that getting to pick when and how you bring up race and violence is in itself a privilege. Families of color are having these conversations out of necessity, often not on their own timeline.

I really enjoyed the article “What Charlottesville Means For Our Black Family” on Raising Race Concsious Children. I love the way the conversation is presented.

The LA Times article about “How to talk to your kids about the violence in Charlottesville” has great pointers on starting a conversation and other tools for connecting with your kids in times of disturbing news.

As for how the talk went with my kids.  I told my six year old that I was sure she noticed mommy and daddy were talking a lot about an event that happened and spending some extra time reading the news. I started with reviewing some things we’ve talked about in the past. How it’s important to stand up for what you believe in. How people do not always get treated fairly because their skin is a different color. She knows that the history of america includes slavery, which is when white people owned black people. Then, I told her that people who were standing up for equal rights among all skin colors were hurt by people who think only white people should be in charge. That was enough for her at the time. I tried to push more but she wasn’t engaged (which was my fault and more or that later).

My 3 year old understands that people have different skin colors, and sometimes people are not nice to each other when they encounter someone who is different.

Neither conversation was what I was going for, but the door is open and I will make an effort this week to guide the conversation with more intention.

Please add links to other resources or share how talks with your kids went.