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Parents, community leaders offer advice on talking to kids about race

KHOU 11 asked four people how to bring the conversation about race home to kids.

HOUSTON — Everywhere you turn, George Floyd dominates the headlines. So KHOU 11 asked four people how to bring the conversation home to kids.

"You have to explain without scaring them, because I have a 3-year-old, a 5-year-old and a soon-to-be 11-year-old, and you really have to make it age appropriate for them and you have to bring up those scenarios," said Belinda N. Mays, a mother who is also an author and IT professional.

"We need to have these bold conversations, allow our kids, our friends and family to ask those hard questions," said Dawnalee Head, a mother and special education teacher.

"I didn't find out I was black until I was in third grade, because we didn't have the race talk," said Terence Narcisse, founder and executive director of East Harris County Empowerment Council.

"This is not yesterday’s problem. This is today’s problem, which means it’s tomorrow’s problem and it’s not going away overnight," said Rev. Lataya Simpson, associate pastor at Bellaire United Methodist Church.

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Grace White, KHOU 11:  "What conversations do you hope are started in homes across Houston?"

Mays: "My hope is that people will have conversations with children, because a lot of times the question is should I talk to my children about what's going on?"

Narcisse: "For me, I would hope the conversations are at least honest, that we take the time to reflect and think on how we got here and also be intent on what kind of world we want to see in the future."

White: "How do you start the conversation with kids?" 

"It actually started because my husband and I were watching the news, and seeing what was going on and my kids happen to be sitting there eating their dinner, and they asked what is going on," Head said. "Why is that man on the ground like that? The police have a knee in the back of his neck. That just kind of opened up the opportunity for us to have the conversation, we got a chance to answer those questions."

"Many people in the christian faith we are familiar with the A.C.T.S. prayer model," Rev. Simpson said. "Acknowledge, confess, thanksgiving and supplication. So what I did was just change the S. The A is still acknowledge. Acknowledge race is still a problem and it’s real. Confess to your children the racism in your life that you’ve experienced or been a victim of, or been the offender, just say I’ve done it, it’s real, I’m sorry. T is to be thankful your children are willing to talk to you and for the people who have come before us, for the civil rights movement, which is still going on and name those persons. Finally, the S is stay, stay committed to the cause, stay committed to communicating."

White: "When people look at the crowds of people who marched in downtown Houston, especially for the kids and the families seeing those pictures. What do you hope they take from that?"

"I hope that people take some affirmation, especially people of color, because we see outside races becoming allies," Mays said.

"I’m hoping that my children take away from seeing all the protests and rioting, particularly the protests that there is still hope for change," Head said.

"This is not a black problem. This is not a white problem. This is our problem, and the more we can make it larger around what we the people, the collective we, want to see in the world, the more progress we will continue to make," Narcisse said.

"This is just one step on the journey, but the journey is going to be long. It’s been going on and it’s a hard journey and it will continue. So I’m glad more people are on the journey with us. That’s what those protests and seeing so many people out there shows me," Rev. Simpson said.

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