As Black Lives Matter protests continue across the globe, it’s clear this is a fight that’s only just beginning. After all, many parents are just now beginning to teach their kids about racism, police brutality, and Black history. But in addition to teaching their kids about how white supremacy continues to affect Black communities, parents like Kerry Washington are teaching their Black kids how to stay safe(r) around people who only see color. On Jimmy Kimmel Live, the mother of two explained how she’s educating her kids about race and privilege.
“There’s a lot of posts about privilege looks like discovering that racism exists as opposed to knowing that it exists. So, I think for a lot of Black families, we don’t have the privilege of ignoring what’s going on and pretending that it’s not happening,” the Little Fires Everywhere star told Kimmel. For Washington’s family, and other Black families, they’ve never had to discover that racism exists like so many white folks are right now; rather, they live this reality every day.
Washington rightfully points out that far too many people only learn about Black history during Black History Month — but that’s not enough.
“And really thinking about the idea that for a lot of kids — kids are introduced to race at Black History Month or in the concept of change-makers like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks,” she says. This got her thinking about how she can educate her kids beyond what’s being offered in school. For one thing, Washington wants kids to learn about the history of Black people before they were slaves.
“But this idea of teaching kids that Black History and Black people were a lot of things before segregation and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement,” Washington says. “So that we understand the beautiful complexity and elegance and richness of Black History before refusing to be put in the back of the bus.”
She explains that kids should be learning about Maasai Warriors and the kingdoms of Ghana and Queen Nefertiti and the pyramids of Egypt. “And I think it’s really important that we start to introduce the idea of race with a Black History that begins before teaching kids what Black people were told they couldn’t do, right?” she says.
Still, Washington expresses how the recent protests have given her hope and encouragement for the future. Now, we have to commit to continuing to show up, protest, vote and teach our kids the true, comprehensive history of Black folks around the world.
Working on educating your own kids? These diverse children’s books starring black and brown girls.