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Expert: How NH Parents Can Discuss Racism This School Year

A newly formed group of educators called Seacoast Educators for Equity is trying to create more inclusive versions of history for this school year. (NPS Photo/Emily Mesner)
A newly formed group of educators called Seacoast Educators for Equity is trying to create more inclusive versions of history for this school year. (NPS Photo/Emily Mesner)
July 31, 2020

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- As the country reckons with racism, New Hampshire students this fall probably will talk about it more too.

Brittany Jones is a clinical consultant at the nonprofit Youth Villages, who gives advice for how parents can discuss racism with their kids, such as the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

Jones said parents don't need to be experts -- they just need to be real.

"You want to start by having the parents be honest about how they're feeling and letting kids know that the parents are also going through a similar process, and it's OK to be confused and not know exactly how you're feeling," said Jones. "We start the conversations by asking them what they want to know, what they want to talk about, and you listen."

Jones stressed that for children of color, it's important to address their fears. This includes how they would deal with a police encounter and how parents would support them afterwards.

Jones also recommended that teachers, school social workers and other education professionals be transparent. For example, Jones, who's African-American, was pleased to hear white therapists at Youth Villages sharing their biases in a meeting this summer.

"Staff owning up to, we never directly talked about race or how that impacted treatment or how that impacted their community," said Jones. "And it's been really surprising the amount of people who are saying, like, 'I shouldn't be waiting for a family to bring this up.' "

Students in Manchester who led Black Lives Matter protests this summer are urging the school system to have greater diversity in the curriculum and staff.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - NH