by Adryan Moorefield
One of the sad truths about this country and this world is that ideas such as respect and inclusiveness don’t mean the same thing amongst various groups of people. Slavery, discrimination, and racism are all byproducts of these various ways of thinking. There is a common saying that history tends to repeat itself. In recent years, we have seen this to be true. We must arm our children, now, to be able to deal with these situations as they live their daily lives. This month is Black History Month. Black History Month serves as a reminder for all of us, of the not so distant history and social issues that once plagued our nation. Racism and segregation are two very important ideas that polarized this country. Children in the past had to deal with uncomfortable situations every day. This was their reality. Sadly, the current social climate is lending itself towards these ideas as we see more social injustice begin to surface.
The Problem We All Live With is a historical painting depicting the treatment of a six-year-old child named Ruby Bridges. The Little Justice Leaders had the opportunity to learn about Ruby Bridges from their February boxes. Ruby Bridges was the first African American child to be integrated into a segregated school in New Orleans, Louisiana. She had to deal with a multitude of problems such as death threats and violence all because she was a Black student enrolled in an all-white school.
One of the things that I frequently think about as an adult, is what my life would have looked like had I really been aware of what was going on in the world when I was a child. Don’t get me wrong, there is an extreme importance in fostering imagination and playfulness in a child’s life. Daring them to dream and reach for the stars. It’s all very important. But what I have discovered, in my own life, is that I wasn’t emotionally prepared to deal with the turmoil that currently exists in the world. Seeing the world through rose-colored shades was my thing.
I have this fond memory of watching a movie called ‘Selma, Lord, Selma’ with my mom when I was 9. The movie was about two young girls who participated in the Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama and what they experienced. I remember being so uncomfortable. Real life stories were unfolding in front of me, but it didn’t seem real. X-men seemed more real to me. As soon as the movie was over, I immediately found something “better” to watch so I could get those images out of my head. I couldn’t deal. The world is a beautiful place. Anything that portrayed it as otherwise wasn’t acceptable. Imagine my surprise when I had to come face to face with my first racially motivated encounter or when I had to deal with the ramifications of the Black Lives Matter movement. Suddenly, everything that I had known was torn to shreds. In those times, I had the luxury of creating my own little bubble to insulate myself from the world. That just isn’t the case anymore.
We all care about keeping our children safe. The best way to do that is to prepare them for what they may face in the world, despite their young age. We need to emphasize what it means to be respectful. We need to emphasize what to do when a disaster hits, or when a lunatic threatens the lives of school children. We need to emphasize the steps to take when corrupt policemen target our brown babies. We need to emphasize what to do when racists and bigots threaten to destroy the livelihood of our communities.
One of the most common push backs from parents or teachers about teaching kids about social justice is that they are too young. Kids pick up on a lot. They see what is going on around them, and we cannot shelter them from it. Teach your children how to live in this world. We must teach them how to be critical thinkers and how to understand the challenges in the world. It is not always fun or pretty. But whenever you have your doubts, think of Ruby Bridges and the trials she had to face. One of our favorite teachers (@readlikearockstar) said it best: If she was six and had to go through this, your six-year old can learn about it.
Adryan Moorefield is a Dallas native that loves to share what he’s learned in life. He is a performing artist, teacher, computer nerd, foodie, animal lover, all around fun-loving guy! When not writing, Adryan likes to spend his free time sleeping, eating, practicing archery, learning Italian, and spending time with his partner and dog. Adryan loves his family and friends and believes that we all have the capacity to love and shape the world for the better.