We have all heard and seen the aftermath of the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown. We’ve had many conversations with our friends and colleagues about what a failure to indict means for the Brown family, for Ferguson, for black boys everywhere. But as time passes after this decision, we at GCP are focused on the conversations we need to have with our sons. How do we talk to our older sons about the Ferguson verdict? How do we help them process what has happened? What can be learned? Here are a few tips we’ve compiled from a variety of sources:
Help your high school son channel his emotional reaction into a discussion of broader issues: Your high school son is likely to be angry, upset, defensive (especially among his white peers) and confused about the Ferguson verdict. He may have a very strong opinion about it, or he may be trying to figure out what he should believe among all the “facts” flying around. Listen to him, and encourage him to vent and explore his feelings. You can tell him what you think about the verdict and the aftermath but give him room to have his own opinions. Per Dr. Chatelain, high school students are equipped to address broader philosophical questions about the nature of protest, the social contract and ethical leadership. Talk with your son about the protests. If he chooses to participate in any protest marches, make sure he carries I.D. and the name and telephone number of an attorney or trusted community leader (pastor, etc.) whom he can contact in addition to you if necessary. Ask him why he is protesting and what results he would like the protests to bring about. We can be proud of our sons for following in our tradition of joining organized protests, but we need to make sure they are doing so consciously, not just following the crowd, and are focusing on desired results.
#FergusonSyllabus: Dr. Chatelain asked the Twitter universe to suggest resources to help teach our children all of the lessons of Ferguson using #FergusonSyllabus, and a community of teachers, academics, community leaders, and parents have responded. She has compiled a partial list of these resources in an article in The Atlantic found here.Scroll through this listing and click on some of its offerings, and encourage your sons to do the same.
Remind your son what to do if he is stopped by the Police: Whether your son aged 13+ is participating in protests or just walking down the street, he needs to know what to do (and what not to do) if/when he is stopped by the police. GCP posted these rules more than a year ago here. Review them with your sons on a regular basis.