We went to the protest and the part we attended was calm and involved various individuals sharing their experiences through a not-loud enough microphone. The kids ate ice cream and walked on the mid-level walls around the plaza. Noah asked me to read the various signs to him (All Cops are Darren Wilson, Black Lives Matter), but we didn't discuss them on a deep level. We left when they grew bored (actually, Ezra fell off the wall and bloodied his nose. We like dramatic exits).
The protest itself was not very impactful for the kids (demonstrators went on to block roads, including a highway, there were physical clashes with police and arrests, which I very much did not want to expose my kids to) but the conversations we had ahead of time with Noah were rich. Over dinner we talked about how a man was accidentally killed by police officers while being arrested for a very minor thing. Many people believe cops mistreat black people and we don't think that's right. We wanted to go to the demonstration to show support to the man's family.
"Why don't cops like black people,?" he asked. We discussed how not all cops are bad and that all of us, in fact, have some parts that can be mean ("Yeah, like when you yell at me.")-Ahem -and some parts that are kind . We reminded him how slavery and Jim Crow segregation (which he knows about on a cursory level) shaped many people's ideas about black people in very negative ways. We prepared him for some demonstrators saying angry things ("Will the people there have on grumpy faces,?" he asked). Most amusing of all, after our careful information session, he wrinkled his nose at the end and said he'd rather go to a bouncy house than a protest. Bwahahaha!
You know what? It was heartwarming to discuss these heavy issues with my son because it required us to distill the most important elements into simple terms that build on what he already knows but that don't overwhelm or traumatize him. We had to fine tune our responses on the spot, making them simpler or more nuanced depending on his questions and observations. Figuring out how to do this sensitively was a great parenting moment for Matthew and me and I really enjoyed it.
And...Noah lost his third tooth the next morning.
|Cue Awkward Face Phase|