January 6th is surely a day that will go down in the history books. As adults, we hear and read the news, and it’s easy to get lost in it without taking time to explain.
It’s important to me to be open and honest with my kids. While they heard bits and pieces yesterday, I’m planning to talk to them today about what exactly happened. Plus, I want them involved in antiracist work. And this is a racism issue. So if they’re going to continue to act, they need to know what is happening,
Below, I’m sharing the verbiage I’ll use to talk to my kids, as well as 5 points that I’m going to remember to bring up with them. I’ll adapt them for the various ages of my kids (aged 11 months – 10 years), and hope it helps you in talking to your kids, too.
- Since the election, President Trump has said that he will not accept defeat. That means that he has been telling his followers that he will not agree that he has lost and that he is not planning to allow Joe Biden to become the next President.
- Despite what President Trump has said, lots of judges and other people have made sure that the election was honest and fair.
- President Trump is continuing to lie to his supporters by telling them that Biden “stole” the election. This is not true.
Rally & Storming of the Capitol
- President Trump asked his supporters to come to a rally in Washington DC yesterday.
- A rally is when a group of people gathers with a similar mission. The mission of this rally was to try to keep Trump in office.
- Trump picked yesterday because it was the day the elected leaders of our country (Congress) would be counting up all of the electoral college votes. The electoral college votes are based on the votes of the people of the United States, and these votes decide the next President.
- After the rally, a group of people went over to the US Capitol building. They broke into the building and even broke some windows. They did this while the leaders of the country were counting the electoral votes.
- A riot is when a group of people working together causes a big disruption or public issue.
- Once they got in, they “looted” (stole stuff) and took over the important spaces, including some leaders’ offices.
Why didn’t anyone stop them?
- Some police officers tried to stop them from getting in, but not enough. Other police officers let them walk right in without trying to stop them.
- Overall, the police talked to the rioters and did not immediately use their weapons. THIS IS A GOOD THING.
- Unfortunately, this was because the rioters were white. During protests for safety when the protesters are primarily Black and brown, the police used violence. This needs to change.
What happens next?
- Some of the people were caught, and they may eventually go to jail.
- Many leaders have spoken and said that we should continue counting the votes and not let this get in the way. This is good.
- In the end, we and our country will still be safe. It is important for us to tell people that these actions are wrong so that we do not encourage violence like this in the future.
- It is also important for us to continue to work against racism in ourselves and around us. By doing so, we help protect Black and brown people in the future.
Here are some other January 6th thoughts I’d like to share!
1. Remind them that we’re making progress. Joy = resistance.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the sad and disheartening. It’s easy to get caught up in the anger.
But I want to start with a message of hope. January 6th, 2021 was a really good day, too. Georgia’s first Black Senator (and the 11th Black Senator ever) was elected. A Jewish son of immigrants was elected as a Senator.
The racism was always there. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who has endured it. But it IS being brought to light for many others. That’s a step, and it’s helping a whole lot of others see how blatant it really is.
Also, joy = resistance. Do not let the terrible take away from our joy in the successes. Cherishing and celebrating that joy is part of our resistance. Letting the riots overshadow the victories relinquishes power and centers the oppressors.
2. This is a racism issue.
This is not just about election results. People are making up false, unsubstantiated claims in order to keep hold of an administration driven by white supremacy. This is not a votes issue. It’s a skin color issue.
3. We have a responsibility to speak out. I’m talking to you because you also have that responsibility.
We need to be informed. We don’t get to sit and be comfortable in our ignorance while others do the work of clawing toward equity. It’s easy to wonder why kids need to know about this when it’s already been a hard year for them. But kids are resilient, and they have a natural inclination toward equity. We need to use our privilege to ensure the system progresses to honor the voice of the people.
In addition to that, I want to train them to notice those who ARE speaking out, as well as those who are not. I want them to recognize effort and goodness and support those who are making strides in this work.
Finally, I want to brainstorm with them ways they can speak out for injustice and how to notice it. Reading books and being able to put themselves into the shoes of other perspectives is really helpful for this (the 2021 Global Children’s Book Club is a great way to provide those opportunities).
4. This isn’t new. We shouldn’t be surprised.
I want my kids to know that Black and brown people have endured much worse treatment for a long time for taking very reasonable action. I want them to know that white people in the US are given more license and freedom. Because how can we work to equalize freedom if we think it is already equally extended to everyone?
I also want them to know there are people who’ve been doing this work for a long time. MLK Jr. and John Lewis and Harriet Tubman, of course, but I also want them to know the names of Stacy Abrams and Senator Warnock and so many others striving for liberty and justice for all.
5. We can’t cherry pick what we support in a leader. We can pick our deal breakers and then by default choose to accept the rest.
This is Trump’s America. This IS what our country chose. This is what so much of our country continues to choose. We can’t distance ourselves from that, and we can’t be surprised when exactly what we feared actually happens. You don’t have to agree with everything a leader does when you vote for them, but you DO accept all that they do when you vote for them. By definition, anything they do is NOT a deal breaker for you, and we have to accept that.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can make a change. We can help others make a change. We can help America become what it aspires to be. We can do that by standing up for honesty and integrity. We can not make things up and follow the rules.
I hope some of these thoughts are helpful as you talk with your kids, too – I’d love to hear how your conversations go.