Jesus is the potter and we need to let him mold us and our children while the clay is still wet. That is why it is crucial if you haven’t had conversations about race and racism with your children that you begin now. Start with just asking them, “what have you seen? What do you know? What have you heard?” When I recently asked these questions during our morning devotions, my grandchildren were keenly aware of the current protests, and racial unrest in our world. It is on the news, online, and it is an ongoing conversation that should be taking place in our homes. My grandchildren were relieved to talk about their feelings, and fears, but they also expressed wanting to know what to do, and how to make the world a better place for all people.
Before we can have that conversation, we need to educate ourselves and be comfortable talking about racism. We need to name it, say the word and define it, so children know what racism is. Don’t assume that they know. Be aware that your actions speak louder than words and as the saying goes “attitudes are not just taught, they are caught!”
As a teacher, one way that I have always started a conversation with my students, is by reading a book and then discussing it. This works great at home also, and books I have used to start an ongoing conversation about racism are:
“Let’s Talk About Race” by Julius Lester
“The Other Side” by Jacqueline Woodson
“Separate is Never Equal” by Duncan Tonatuim
“The Story of Ruby Bridges” by Robert Coles
One Green Apple” by Eve Bunting
“Stand in My Shoes” by Bob Sorensen.
Most of these books discuss racism in a historical context, so it is crucial to connect them to the present. We all have the capacity to have a conversation, and using picture books can be a great springboard to a deeper conversation about racism with children.
Use teachable moments to discuss difficult topics, but give them hope in Jesus. The other day my grandkids and I were stopped at an intersection. As a black gentleman walked across the crosswalk, the couple in the car ahead of us called out a blessing to him and waved him over to shake his hand. The smiles and heartfelt greeting warmed our hearts. It was a beautiful, teachable moment. I talked to my grandchildren about reaching out like that as often as we could and following the example of the people in the car ahead of us. I also had us look up the Bible verse John 13:34-35 (NLT).
So now I am giving you a new commandment; love each other, just as I have loved you, so you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
Don’t be colorblind; celebrate the beautiful diversity of skin hues that God has created. Pray together for our nation, and all people, that they would know the Lord Jesus and his love. Diversify your friend group and have theme dinners after reading about other countries and culture; food and love do so much to bring us together. Continue the journey of healing and restoration by letting kids ask questions about racism, and being authentic by admitting we don’t have all the answers but with the Holy Spirit as our guide we will find the answers together.
Happy Valley Elementary Small Groups Director