Below we have included three potential questions your children might ask to dive deeper into this conversation. We recommend that you consider what questions your children might have and your answers to them before sharing Ahmaud Arbery’s story.
Why are people racist? Suggested Response: Self-interest leads people to use racist beliefs to justify their actions. For example, slave owners wanted free labor and more money (this is self-interest) and needed a way to justify enslaving people. Therefore they said that blacks were inferior. This has continued throughout American society. Note:The history of racism is explored in depth in Stamped from the Beginning by historian Ibrahim X. Kendi.
Could this happen to me? We recommend that you be honest, but reassuring here. Offer a hug and something like, “There is no need to be fearful. You are aware and that’s the most important thing.” If your child pushes more, you might add, “While we cannot control people’s beliefs or actions, we will do our part in rallying for change and keeping us and the ones we love safe.”
Are all white people like this? A potential response: No, they are not. But, all people are fallen and have beliefs that impact their ability to care for others. America has had issues with race from the very beginning and while many white people do have negative beliefs about black people, this often shows up in more subtle ways, like in hiring practices, than with physical violence.
Lastly, remember that it’s okay to say, “I don’t really know the answer to that,” or to say that you will think about something more and get back to them later. This is a tough conversation and you do not need to have all of the answers.