Thursday, 20 May 2021

How to talk to your parents about racism if they're just not getting it


Black Lives Matter (BLM) has sparked conversation both online and in real life for a year yet some of our parents still can't seem to grasp the matter. 

Since Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd on May 25, 2020, conversations with friends, discussions on the internet as well as sometimes hard conversations with our parents, racism has been a strong talking point - and long may it continue.

BLM coupled with the government’s report on institutionalised racism has seen an upsurge in the discussion of the humanitarian crisis that is racism. 

It has led many folks to ponder, 'How do we go about talking to our parents about racism? And how do we cope when our beliefs don’t align?'

If there’s one thing the last couple of months has shown us, it’s that parents (not all - we’re not making a sweeping statement here), harbour racist beliefs, or opinions they don’t think are racist.. the beliefs that people largely put down to, ‘oh well, it’s a generation thing’ It's not, it's existed and been fought against for 400 years.

While addressing racism in your parents is by no means an easy feat.. and can feel daunting, we’re here with some simple steps to tackle the problem. These are:

Ijeoma Oluo, best-selling author of So You Want to Talk About Race, explained: “I always tell people before getting in a conversation, especially about race, know what you want to come out of the conversation. 

"Do you want your parents to hear you? Do you want them to be more supportive of your efforts? Do you want them to act? Or do you want them to stop doing something that they're doing that's causing harm? Know what your goal is, and state that goal, and then tailor the conversation towards that.”

Take it from us, seeing red and becoming a bull in a China shop is going to get you nowhere…

Want to educate yourself further on institutionalised racism? Why not read:

- 5 examples that prove White Privilege is still rife in modern society

- Freedom, liberation and justice is the least we can give the Black community | Editor's Letter: Month of Black Lives Matter awareness

- Why Black Lives Still Matter and plenty of insightful free educational resources - including Netflix - to learn

The best thing you can do is to start the conversation, but back up your statements with the relevant information, or direct them to books and TV shows. 

It’s always better to show your parents some useful resources you’ve found in order to get your point across in a clear and concise way (again, no finger-pointing). 

There’s often a lot to learn, and watching an education documentary is one way of helping them on the right track.

Patience really is a virtue when it comes to talking to your parents about racism. 

Don’t expect them to reciprocate right off the bat - this isn’t a sprint, and it won’t happen overnight. 

Let’s be real here: you’re not going to shift someone’s entire belief over dinner. 

Be realistic, set boundaries, and don’t get angry when it doesn’t happen straight away. 

At least they’re taking the time to listen and understand. That’s the most important thing you could ask for. 

Be patient.

Written by Alicia Grimshaw


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