Originally appeared at BuzzFeed. See the complete list and article here.
Ryan E. Hamilton; Gaithersburg, Maryland via Ferguson, Missouri
I want my son to understand that he has unlimited potential, and that he’s living in some of the most incredible times the human race has ever seen. Given the open access to information technology, all of the information in the world is literally out there for the taking, and can be used to better your own life, the lives of those around you, your community, and the world at large. I want him to understand that there is plenty of need in the world, and would like him to develop a sense of duty and service to every human being. To the extent that I can instill self-confidence in him, and allow him to cultivate his talents, skills, and passions, and to use them to benefit all of humanity in a positive way, then I think he’ll be making a positive contribution to the world, in a manner that transcends race, and perhaps, in the long run, eliminates any concern over it… because, let’s face it, race is one big pain in the ass, and always has been.
Andre Moore; Kennesaw, Georgia
Being openly racist has costlier consequences now than any other time in American history. This does not mean race relations has improved or that there are less racist people in the U.S. since the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. It is also important to note that having a biracial president does not mean racism is over! The underlying issue is that racism exists in the subtleties of everyday life and the imbalance of power that still exists in our country.
Young people need to realize that non-whites have less influence and less political power, which has resulted in hiring practices, educational policies, and judicial processes that more often (and in larger numbers) have negatively impacted non-whites. This does not mean that all non-whites are doomed to be a “victim to the system” and that personal responsibility is absolved, but it does suggest that we will continue to hear about unfortunate events like Ferguson in other cities and towns across America until policies and laws are in place that can adequately support and affirm all of our citizens.
Parents need to talk with their children about race and privilege. These conversations need to be more dynamic and organized than the awkward and almost nonsensical “birds and bees” conversation many parents have many years too late with their children. Instead, it should be an ongoing dialogue that will only continue to grow as you and your child’s worldview increase.
As a parent, it is my hope that Ferguson will be the catalyst for meaningful dialogue at home. I hope that all children will learn that regardless of race or background, NO family is immune from the far-reaching and multigenerational impact of racism.
Isom Kuade; Austin, Texas
It’s impossible to look at Ferguson and not think about my own son. I want him to know that in spite of how this world may view him, he does not need to be afraid. He does however, need to be aware. Mindful of the world’s perceptions because they shape the reality in which we live. I hope other young men, of all backgrounds, use events such as Ferguson to shine a spotlight on a part of our society that millions of people never witness, while millions of others must live their daily lives intertwined in.
I hope young men and women see the value in becoming involved in the process of active participation. I hope other young people see how their voices and contributions matter to the whole of society. I hope young people, such as my son, will eventually learn that there are no leaders to wait for. You lead as an individual by simply speaking loudly about the values that are right to you. Let your voice cut through hate, the fear, and the divisiveness. Let your actions fall in line with your voice so you can help lay the foundation for the society you want to live in. If you are not active, how can you expect action from another? No one person has all the answers, but seek out others asking the right questions. Social media has allowed us to band together in ways never before available in human history. I hope that when we witness injustices in the world, we can all see someone who reminds us of ourselves staring back at us — regardless of their skin color.
Creed Anthony; Indianapolis
I think it is important for children to know that we are still learning. We, as a country, have made great strides, but we aren’t “there” yet. I hope we learn that people don’t fit in tidy, convenient labels or categories — these might play well on TV, but they are presumptive and restrictive in real life. I hope we learn that sweeping generalizations, absolutes, are often inaccurate and dangerous. I hope we learn that dialogue after a tragedy is what helps to prevent it from happening again. I hope we learn that just because someone disagrees with you, it doesn’t make them your enemy. I hope we learn that the “us” and “them” is what constitutes the “we.” I hope we learn that every life is valuable.
More from parents on Ferguson and raising kids, at BuzzFeed