Teaching Tolerance: A Black Mom’s Struggle
Dianne Allman is a nurse, mom, Knix model and ambassador. To check out our interview with Dianne about all things motherhood and being a frontline worker, you can click here to read.
Last year, I watched a video of a man being arrested outside a store, pinned to the ground by the knee of a police officer. That video stirred the nation, the world, and opened the eyes to police brutality in the Black community, racism and the Black Lives Matter movement.
As I watched the news coverage, I looked over at my 2 sons and began to cry. Thoughts raced through my mind. When will their first overt experience with racism be? How will they react? What will their futures be like? How do I talk to them about this?
Because the truth is, it could have easily been them at that store. When they’re older, I can picture it so clearly: they’re hanging out with their friends, showing off, speaking loudly, catching the attention of police, being pinned down, possibly killed. I had thoughts no mother should have. Unfortunately, these are thoughts that every Black mom in America has, constantly.
I want to raise my boys to be loving and tolerant of everyone. This has become increasingly difficult for me, knowing that they will not be treated that way in return.
The best I can do (and what we all can do) is instill confidence, strength, and self worth. Teach them to be unbothered by the actions of others, because the actions of others do not determine who they are.
What you tell your children about themselves is what they will believe. My sons are now 8 and 6. I want them to believe they are living in a beautiful world where they will be accepted and appreciated. But that will not always be the truth. So as parents, what do we do?
You might think that approaching the topic of racism with your child is going to be difficult. And any approach needs to be age specific, which might make this seem even harder.
It’s not complicated though. The bottom line is— simple decency and goodness starts at an early age.
Teaching kids about cultural differences promotes tolerance.
Teaching kids not to be bullies, and to show kindness promotes acceptance.
Teaching kids has a lot to do with your own actions too. Be aware of your own biases as an adult, and how you interact and respond to others— kids watch your every move.
Black leaders have been fighting for equality and justice since before I was born. And unfortunately, racism and intolerance (in some kind of form) will be around when I die. As a Black parent to Black sons, this is a great disappointment and burden to my children.
At the end of the day, we can change laws, but if we do not change attitudes, perceptions and behaviors then very little has changed at all. And it all starts with teaching tolerance to our kids.