A Black Lives Matter rally can be a great place for parents to learn the complex issues of racism so they can better explain it to their children.
There are plenty in the communities around Westchester with many run by youth, often students of high school age so would appeal to children, young people and their parents. They are "family-friendly" events, according to County Legislator Damon Maher. He's been to 17 marches in recent weeks and was planning on speaking at one in New Rochelle on Friday, July 3 that was canceled because of weather.
"They're definitely family-friendly. They are safe. You can hang back if it's crowded, towards the side if you want. Easily 100 percent of the people wear masks. They are thoughtful of others at these events" Maher said of the marches he's attended.
"Parents can learn a lot" at the marches, suggested Nicole Alifante, founder/president of the Coalition for Understanding Racism through Education—C.U.R.E. in Larchmont and Mamaroneck. "A lot of kids are forming the groups and it is young people who are speaking at the rallies."
Maher said when he's asked to speak at a rally, he urges attendees to make sure they learn and understand the history of racism in this country. "I say this whether I'm talking to youth or adults. Parents can learn then tell their children about racism in a way that is age-appropriate," he said.
"A message I always give is for white people to clean up your own mess. This concept tends to be memorable. You learn this in kindergarten and we have to work hard to undo the underlying racism that still exists in the country. We (white people) are the majority still of the country. We have to get the right leaders. When you have an idea, send an email and when they don't do what you're asking them to do, don't vote for them the next time around," he said.
Another way parents can learn to help their children better understand racism is through school-sponsored workshops.
"Parents can ask their child's school but if the school doesn't do that, parents can get together in groups. Parents can read a book like Stamped: Racism, Anti Racism, and You: A Remix, then discuss it on Zoom, Alifante said. Another suggestion is watching a film like "Thirteenth" then discussing it on Zoom, an idea suited for high school age youth.
Alifante expects the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement to bring a huge shift in "the way we listen and the way we teach" our children.
She said up to now, "seeing things through a white lens is just the default. Everyone has so many deep feelings about this. First and foremost we have to explore our feelings about racism. Parents would be shocked. If you go to a rally you get unbelievable feelings about what kids are feeling."
Here is more information about CURE and a fundraiser to support its educational programs.