*One of the greatest truths adults should address today may be the fact that they underestimate children. If we just take the time to sit and speak to them, not in childlike gibberish or using a disrespectful tone — but in a way that makes them feel that we “really want to know your thoughts on this” that would go such a long way. But it wouldn’t stop there. We would have to truly listen, because believe it or not, kids know when they are being bulls**ted. So you’d have to let them know that you heard them in your followup. Reiterate some of their points in a way that reaffirms you understand where they are coming from.
Such underrated dialogue could hold some valuable insights to many of the issues that seem to have now become so overwhelmingly complex in America.
Where is all of this coming from?
A CNN video done about a year ago (scroll down), around the time of Eric Garner‘s death, shows a reporter sitting down with a young group of school children to discuss issues in the news at the time: Grand jury’s, the police and unarmed Black men.
The diverse group of children, probably none of whom are older than seven, raise their hands when asked if they have heard about the issues he named. And from this, their illuminating responses show a wisdom and poise way beyond their years. This does not go unnoticed by the brilliant reporter who is questioning them.
Brilliant because of the respect he shows them; an approach that lets them know that he “needs their help” (and its done authentically, because they would know otherwise) and his ability to listen to them with the sense of wonderment and value that made them feel that their thoughts are significant.
In the presence of eight youngsters, the reporter posed scenarios and asked a variety of questions such as, what has your parents told you about being in the presence of a police officer? (“Be nice. Be calm. And not to do anything wrong.”) And ‘why are people angry about the Eric Garner case?’ (“They’re angry because not only is he selling illegal cigarettes, but they choked him out and when he went to court the jury said it was okay and let him go.”)
Intrigued by this last response, the reporter asks “William” to elaborate.
Reporter: And is that wrong?
William: Because if that happens again, then they can’t just let him go again. They have to make it stop before it happens again.
And finally, before I turn the video over to you, we know that racism is taught. That no one is born a racist. So, I found it especially interesting when the reporter asked a Caucasian girl to describe the boy sitting next to her in three words. Without taking a beat she looks at him and described what he is wearing.
Never mentioning the fact that he is black.
Of course the reporter was over that.
In my research around the topic for this article, I ran across another one done by Huffington Post on the subject of how kids respond to race issues. In that article, the children were a bit older at 12-years of age.
It too, was illuminating.
Watch the CNN video below and let us know your thoughts. Then check out the article and video by our friends at Huffington Post.
And then, one more thing, sit down and talk to your own children; your own nieces and nephews, brother and sisters, cousins.
And listen to them.