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5 Tools to Discuss Social Justice with Your Kids

Congressman John Lewis and Reverend Cordy Tindell “CT” Vivian, two brothers in the Civil Rights movement, two icons passed away on the very same day, Friday, July 17, 2020. Their fiery passion for being the voice for the beloved community, the prick of consciousness for others, these legends were always at the forefront of their lifetime of service. These men spoke up for equality in voting rights, jobs, and freedom.

Reverend Vivian’s daughter commented that her dad was always there for her, for her entire life. Can you imagine the lessons that he instilled in her? Sitting around at those kitchen or dining room table conversations that so many Black families have. Those poignant moments where over or after a great meal class transcends into session and everyone is dialed in on what’s being said.

We can take a note from our predecessors and a nod from our rich tradition to carry the social justice conversations on with our children, regardless of their age. The five resources below can help to release fears, express stressors, tensions, and can help parents and allies to devise strategies for meaningful movement through a world that does not readily, nor freely grant liberty, and justice for all.

Privilege Explained

It’s easy to think that everyday inequities are just the way it is. But when it’s highlighted in a way that shows how one’s privilege gives them an advantage that others do not get to partake or participate in, a change of mind might ensue. In under two minutes, watch with the students in your life how a simple classroom exercise demonstrates a daily reality.

Understanding Mass Incarceration

Made into a major motion picture starring Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Foxx, Attorney Bryan Stevenson tells his coming of age story in Just Mercy, as a young attorney who wholeheartedly believes in the justice system. He learns about the injustice of a system that is not designed to serve blind justice, that treats the most vulnerable the most unfairly. Take your time over the rest of summer, listen to the author in the audible version for meaningful discussion, then watch the in tandem movie for a salient review.  

For the Historian Who Loves a Storied Context

From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual.

Chains will have your mini sharpening their historical chops over the rest of summer. This novel is set as the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

Mom, What’s Systemic Racism?

With just five invested minutes of watching this animated video, little ones may really be able to better grasp the harsh realities of why systemic racism is so unjust. It affects every area of life in the U.S., from incarceration rates, the ability of inmates to contact their families, cash bail, predatory loans, the inaccessibility of healthy foods in poor neighborhoods, and trying to solve these problems requires changes in major parts of our system. This video offers a closer look at what systemic racism is, and how we can solve it.

For the Pragmatic Who Wants Actionable Steps

Tiffany Jewell speaks to your little ones in a direct, confident tone that equips them to give voice to the topic of race with candor, and without shame. For the big kid, tween or teen who is practical at heart and needs action steps to work out their emotions, this highly praised book is a tool kit for action that will serve every family well.

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