Speaking About Unspeakable History

What King said in a 1967 speech, titled “The Other America,” was:

Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? … It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.

Yesterday morning, my now adult son came in and asked if I had heard about those who had been looting at stores a few blocks from us.  “No”, I replied.

Fast forward to Monday evening at about 8:15pm.  It HAD BEEN silent for about an hour prior to this. Curfew was about to fall for the first evening, at 8pm.

silencce redefined

There were no car horns, no busses, no people talking, nobody at the college across the street, no street vendors, or people talking as they exit the subway below me.  You could hear a few birds outside the window and feel the wind. The city air was crisp and fresh.  Then… the roar of protestors outside and all around my home in NYC. The noise was so loud that I had to check outside. I took my camera and recorded this moment in history that will be written about and talked about in years to come.  I then went back to resume attendance at a Zoom meeting in which we were having a discussion around processing the impact of the death of George Floyd this week. I shared what I had witnessed.  All this while hearing protestors outside

The silence of a few minutes earlier had been shattered.

How do we explain racism and injustice to others?  It is as perplexing as the time on 9-11 when my then six-year-old son asked what happened? I had walked across Central Park to pick him up from school where he had not been told anything. That was another point in time when you didn’t know how to explain events.  The first thing I could think of without a second thought was the truth. It was hard to hide since all around us was the smell of smoke.  Helicopters were overhead. Simply said for a six-year old’s comprehension “bad guys in airplanes hit the world trade center and it is on fire”.  He knew what the buildings were. He had seen them in the skyline a few weeks earlier from the Statue of Liberty.   This was a fact.

Here are some ideas for explaining the concept to  explain racism to kids

For adults ..LEARN because the more you know and internalize, the easier it MAY be to explain this within your family.  For starters, the NYT published an “anti-racist” reading list   

For kids on June 6, 2020

standing tall

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