How to talk with your children about recent events

Jun 05 2020

How to talk with your children about recent events

This message originally went out to Keystone parents from Mr. Handmaker via email. We’re reprinting it below:

Dear Keystone Community,

Like people all over the country, my family and I have watched the recent news with a combination of anger and profound sadness. As the video of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis circulated, I was infuriated while my heart sank.

Over the past few days, I have wrestled with what to say to you, the Keystone community.

First of all, to the African-American families at Keystone, I want to say how sorrowful I am. Please know that I am here to listen if you would like to talk, and I am happy to be in dialogue with you.

In addition, as someone who grew up in the segregated South and witnessed the civil rights struggle of the 1960’s, I am heartbroken and exasperated that as a society, we’re still grappling with a systemic racism that is woven so deeply into the American fabric.

As an educator, my thoughts go to how we talk to our children about these issues, particularly in a school like Keystone that is so diverse, so inclusive, and has so many African-American families.

First of all, I would never presume to tell parents of children of color how you should have the conversation about racism with your children. I can merely say that I am truly and deeply disappointed that in 2020 you have to engage in this discussion, and we are here to support you.

A recent article from CNN called “How to Talk with Your Children About Protests and Racism” provides pointers for parents on ways to speak with children at different ages. For young children, “parents should do their best to limit the exposure children this age have to media, whether television, smartphones or tablets, experts say.”

As children grow, the level of complexity and sophistication in the conversation will change. For tweens and teens, “kids will be able to think more abstractly about racism, injustice and violent versus peaceful protest and discuss their views with parents, experts say.”

We have linked a variety of resources below for you to use in talking with your children. We hope you find them helpful.

Perhaps as we struggle through these heart-wrenching and turbulent times together, we can teach and embolden our children to engage in the centuries-long struggle for equity and justice for all Americans and remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”



William B. Handmaker
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  • Sam Stevens

    Editor’s Note: This letter from a Keystone parent has been edited for profanity.

    Since Mr. Handmaker’s letter has been reprinted, I provide my response to him below:

    Dear Billy:

    I was, and am, also greatly saddened by the killing of George Floyd, and I am distraught over what has followed throughout the country. All good people despise the policemen responsible for killing Floyd or watching it happen, and we want them to pay for it. I am also, however immensely upset and angered by responses such as yours, to jump immediately to the usual worn-out answer of the progressive left that it is because of “systemic racism”, “woven into the fabric of our country”. That is a meaningless term and is a lie and a travesty that is destroying our country, and it has prevented us all from just properly grieving the senseless killing of Floyd.

    What are “systemic” and “woven deeply into the fabric of our country” are our Constitution, which guarantees us our freedoms and rights, and the basic love that the vast majority of Americans have for one another. Sure, there are racists, of all races, in our country, but they are a small minority and are disgusting, contemptable people most of whom probably realize their basic worthlessness. But, “systemic racism”? — What bulls–! We are probably among the least racist countries on earth, and we openly work harder than any other to eradicate it. Think China or Australia or Colombia or Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or Israel or South Africa. They don’t come close.

    And to even suggest using an article from CNN to guide you on how to speak to your children about racism is piling travesty upon travesty. Talk about asking the wolf how to keep your sheep safe. CNN, one of the media leaders in perpetuating the “systemic racism” idiocy, and all for leftist political gain.

    Perhaps we could struggle together through this heart-wrenching time to accomplish some good if it were, in fact, not made turbulent by Antifa and others who hate America. I went to and was mesmerized by a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr in 1965, and I loved him. I believe he would be rolling in his grave that his name would in any way be used to justify the totally unnecessary and destructive response by many to the Floyd tragedy. Protest is one thing, but for the ignorant and the haters that is not enough. There must be total destruction.


    Sam Stevens

    June 6, 2020 at 1:01 am

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