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How White Parents Can Talk To Their Kids About Race

Paula M Naranjo/ Parent Editor

MICHEL MARTIN | June 4, 2020 12:03 AM ET

How white parents can talk to their kids about race.
Photo illustration by Kara Frame, Becky Harlan and CJ Riculan/NPR

Most people have heard about “the talk” — the conversation many African American parents have with their kids about how to avoid altercations with police or what to do and say if they’re stopped.

The recent unrest sparked by anger over police brutality against African Americans has parents who aren’t black thinking more about how they talk to their kids about race.

Michel Martin, weekend host of All Things Considered, spoke with Jennifer Harvey, author of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Michel Martin: You wrote a piece for CNN about how not to raise racist kids. You said most white parents have come up in families in which white silence was a pervasive norm in our socialization. These same parents are now passing such silence on to their kids. Could you talk a bit more about that?

Jennifer Harvey: Many white Americans were raised in families that thought that they were teaching equality. The way that they did that was to just say, “Well, we’re all equal” and not say anything more explicit about what it means when you believe everyone should be equal.

Many members of our society do not experience equality. And so what happens is that in the racist culture we live in — Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum talks about it as “smog” — our kids, our youth, we adults just breathe it in. So we end up showing up in racist ways, even when we come from families where equality was the presumed value.

What is the consequence of that silence?

It breeds a lack of capacity among white people to engage in conversations about race and to respond when racism is happening. If I hear racism out on the street or from a co-worker, should I challenge it? What should I say about it? If my African American colleagues or friends see me be silent because I don’t know what to do, I become untrustworthy.

My daughter is told, “Police are safe — go find one if you’re in trouble,” but her African American cousin is learning complicated messages about the police from his parents. Those differing messages mean they can be great friends for a while. But eventually, the depth of their friendship will erode because my white child will not be able to identify with her African American cousin or her African American friends.

White Americans have to teach our kids how to identify with that experience and how to be good friends to black and brown youth as they grow up. That requires us teaching them about racism. And it requires us modeling anti-racism, which is something a lot of white Americans really struggle with.

With videos like the one of George Floyd’s death, do you wait for your child to come to you? Do you show it to the child and say, “This is something I need to talk about with you?”

White families should not wait to talk about racism with children, because segregation is so deep that if we just wait, it will never come up. I never show my children videos of black people being killed by police, and I try not to watch those videos myself. But I do talk about the videos with them.

I started doing that work with my own children before they even had words. I would make sure we were in spaces where we were opposing police brutality, attending vigils and organizing. I knew they wouldn’t exactly understand what was going on. One time after a rally, my 5-year-old said, “Black people are not safe.” And I said, “Yes, that’s true.” And then she said, “But we’re white, so we are safe.” And I said, “Yeah, that’s true too.”

Then I said to her, “The reason we went to this rally is because we’re trying to tell the government that everybody deserves to be safe.” So now, six years later, she’s already got a deep understanding of this. And so we can talk about what happened to George Floyd. We’re much further along the conversation.

How are you discussing the unrest that’s being shown in the media?

I discussed that with my children by talking with them about how they might respond when they have been harmed or an injustice or an unfairness has happened to them and they aren’t heard. Because we’ve been having these conversations, my kids understand that peaceful protest has not yielded justice for black and brown people in this country.

We’re wrestling with it as a family and acknowledging that it’s really unsettling, but also appreciating that people are really hurt and really angry. And the government hasn’t responded.

I’m always trying to complicate messages about following rules and obeying the law. I made sure they knew that Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. were breaking the law. They need to know sometimes that’s what’s required. They’re certainly unsettled and it’s a scary time for everybody, but they do appreciate that when you’ve been hurt and harmed and no one is given justice, sometimes eruptions happen.

For people who say, “You know what — this stuff just gives me a headache. I don’t want to be bothered. This isn’t my problem. Why do I have to think about this? I have problems of my own,” what do you say?

I ask them, would they call it a headache if it was their child or their sister or their brother or their parent? We’re talking about our fellow human beings. What would you do on behalf of your own?

And then my work as a parent is to raise my kids in a way where they experience communities of color, black people, Latino people, being human beings they identify with as part of their human network. And that’s something that hasn’t really happened in part because of segregation in the United States.

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Parents Sue DCF For Restricting Child Visitations During Pandemic

Paula M Naranjo/ Parent Editor

June 04, 2020 | By Deborah Becker

A group of Massachusetts parents has filed suit against the Baker administration, arguing it has unlawfully terminated visits with the parents’ biological children in foster care. They argued the administration has imposed excessive restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit, scheduled for a hearing Friday, alleged that the state Department of Children and Families’ decision to end in-person visits between children in foster care and their biological parents was unconstitutional and traumatizing for already at-risk children. The suit asked a judge to immediately reinstate in-person visits, which were stopped because of the pandemic.

“The directive of the department goes significantly further than the guidance given by the federal or state governments and is excessive, imposing more severe restrictions on contact between children and parents, whose bond is protected by the constitution,” the complaint read. “Plaintiffs have been aggrieved by the actions of the department and deprived of the family time they are entitled to at a time when it is critically important.”

The suit said the department ended visitation for most children in state custody in March when it moved to virtual visits between parents and children. The suit included an April 3 directive from DCF Commissioner Linda Spears that said most face-to-face parent child visits would be done through phone calls or video conferences to limit in-person interaction as much as possible.

“Visitation means in-person contact,” the suit read. “Providing only ‘video conference visitation’ constitutes a termination of visitation. Through this policy the department is unilaterally deciding whether to provide visitation or terminate visitation, without the requisite court order.”

According to the suit, one plaintiff — an unnamed mother of a 3-month-old — has not been physically present with the baby since March 9.

“It’s been very difficult for bonding to occur over video,” the suit said. It added the mother has been engaged in a “family action plan,” and that “the goal is for the baby to be reunified” with the mother.

DCF said it does not comment on pending litigation but is working to reintroduce in-person visitation.

“DCF guidance recognizes the importance of visitation, while protecting the health and safety of children and families,” said a statement from DCF spokeswoman Andrea Grossman. “During this unprecedented health crisis, DCF is using technology to maintain contact between child and parents to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, consistent with federal guidance and state law.”

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Police: Parents, 4 kids found dead in garage in San Antonio

Paula M Naranjo/ Parent Editor

  • By Associated Press | Updated 1 min ago | Posted on Jun 5, 2020
Police: Parents, 4 kids found dead in garage in San Antonio
Police in Texas are investigating after a family of six was found dead in an SUV parked in the garage of a San Antonio home. (Photo by KSAT via CNN) 

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A family of six, including four children between the ages of 11 months and 4 years old, was found dead in the back of an SUV parked in the garage of a San Antonio home, authorities there said Thursday night.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the smell of carbon dioxide was so strong when officers arrived that it “kind of blew everybody back out the door.” He said police had gone to the house for a welfare check requested by the husband’s employer, who had been unable to reach him.

Police at one point suspected the house was potentially rigged with explosives but found none, McManus said. Two cats were also found dead the front seat of the SUV.

“It’s the whole picture. The adults, the children, the pets,” McManus said. “Saying it’s not pretty — there’s no words to describe that.”

McManus said there was evidence “it was not an accident,” and he did not suggest that anyone outside the family was involved. He said the parents were in their 30s but did not disclose their names. The family had military ties, he confirmed to reporters at a Thursday night briefing, but he would not say which branch.

McManus said the family moved into the house in January.

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Is It Safe to Swim During COVID-19? Here’s What to Know About the Risks

Paula M Naranjo/ Parent Editor

Consider these safety precautions before swimming in a pool, lake, or the ocean this summer.

By Jessica Bennett June 01, 2020

On a hot summer day, swimming is one of the best ways to cool off while enjoying some fresh air and sunshine. But with the current coronavirus pandemic, you might be wondering if it’s safe to take a dip in a pool or hit the beach this summer. Before you pack up the sunscreen and towels, there are a few things you should know first about safe swimming during COVID-19.

kids legs splashing in a swimming pool

As with any activity that involves other people, swimming in a public area involves some risk of transmitting the virus. The level of risk depends on several factors, including proximity to others, cleaning practices, and hygiene habits. It’s important to note, however, that you aren’t likely to catch the virus from the water itself.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to spread primarily by breathing in airborne droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Water dilutes these droplets, making it less likely for you to contract the virus by swallowing it. Although there is some evidence that coronaviruses can survive in water, a large amount of water in a pool or lake dilutes the virus enough to significantly lower the risk of transmission, according to reporting from The New York Times.

Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website says, “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds.” The disinfecting chemicals, such as chlorine or bromine, typically added to the water should effectively kill the virus.

The other people in and around the water, however, could be cause for concern. Crowded beaches or busy pool locker rooms can make it difficult to maintain distance and avoid touching common surfaces. Whether you’re thinking about visiting a pool, lake, or beach, consider these safety precautions to help avoid the spread of COVID-19 while you swim.

1. Maintain your distance in and out of the water.

Outdoor airflow helps dilute the virus, but prolonged close contact with others could still pose a risk. Aim to keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and others outside your household at all times, including while in the water. Before taking young children to the pool or beach, consider whether they will be able to maintain their distance from others while swimming or playing.

2. Wear a mask, but not in the water.

If maintaining physical distance is difficult, the CDC suggests wearing a cloth face covering while sunbathing on the sand or relaxing poolside. Face masks should not be worn in the water, as the material can be difficult to breathe through when wet.

3. Practice proper hygiene.

Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) often, especially after touching common surfaces such as doorknobs and faucet handles in locker rooms or restrooms. Consider bringing your own disinfectant wipes to wipe down umbrellas, lounge chairs, and other pool-deck furniture before use. Cover any coughs or sneezes, and, as always, stay home if you feel ill.

In general, your risk of contracting the virus through a large body of water is low, but a few safety measures can help you stay healthy in and around the water. As long as you do it cautiously, swimming can be a safe summer activity for you and your family during COVID-19.

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6 Zoos and Aquariums Offering Live Videos of Animals for Free During New Coronavirus Outbreak

Paula M Naranjo/ Parent Editor

eating gray elephant

Watch these curious creatures wander their habitats and learn something new from the comfort of your home.

By Jennifer Aldrich March 17, 2020

As precautions due to the COVID-19 (which stands for coronavirus disease 2019) continue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends both frequent hand washing and social distancing. Because of this, many places that hold large crowds are closing, including zoos and aquariums. But while trips to your local zoo are currently postponed, you can still get a close-up look at your favorite animals, all from the comfort of your own home.

Across the country, zoos and animal sanctuaries (some of which also include botanical centers) are featuring live-cams, interactive videos, and updates to anyone who wants to see what their exotic creatures are up to. The best part is that anyone with an internet connection can tune in. Even better: you don’t have to have a zoo membership.

Fiona the hippo under water
Fiona the hippo is the star of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s first Home Safari Facebook Live. COURTESY OF LISA HUBBARD/CINCINNATI ZOO & BOTANICAL GARDEN

Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Located in Seminole, Florida, the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is currently closed until further notice. Since the announcement of the closure, the organization launched The Zoo Comes to You, an educational Facebook Live series airing weekdays at 2 p.m. EST. The first episode, which aired yesterday on Facebook, featured Butterscotch, a rabbit, eating a snack.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Since its March 14 closure, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden announced it would be showcasing a video series on Facebook Live called Home Safari. Each episode highlights some of the animals and also includes an activity you can do at home, such as an online quiz about the presented animal. Each installment airs at 3 p.m. EST and began on Monday on the site’s Facebook page. The first airing featured Fiona, a Nile hippo, one of the most famous animals at the zoo.

Houston Zoo

From March 13 to April 3, the Houston Zoo will keep its doors shut. During that time, the zoo is posting video updates on different animals. The first one, a live video that played around 2:30 p.m. EST on Monday, showcased giraffes enjoying a leafy snack from two zookeepers. Viewers were able to ask the keepers questions via Facebook comments, and employees answered their questions in real-time.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Although the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, is closed from March 12-27, the animals are still showing off via different live feeds that you can watch every day of the year. Check out the penguins, sharks, jellyfish, birds, or one of the other cameras on the aquarium’s website.

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is closed until April 1, but you can still watch the animals through 10 different live cams, plus archived videos of pandas from January through April 2019. (These cameras are available all year long, whether the park is open or closed.) On the website, the zoo is streaming videos of baboons, penguins, polar bears, apes, koalas, giraffes, owls, elephants, tigers, and condors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, which is closed until March 29, has been making the rounds on social media with its videos of penguins roaming around the grounds. The latest post showcases a pair named Edward and Annie exploring the rotunda, and the aquarium notes it will continue to share other animals in their habitats.

Many zoos are still accepting donations while they remain closed due to COVID-19 concerns. If you’d like to chip in, head to one of the websites listed above, or check out your local zoo’s website to see how you can help.

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Quick & easy creamy herb chicken

Paula M Naranjo / Parent Editor


Recipe by
Quick And Easy Creamy Herb Chicken, filled with so much flavour, ready and on your table in 15 minutes! You won't believe how easy this is! | http://cafedelites.com

quick and easy creamy herb chicken filled with so much flavour, ready and on your table in 15 minutes? yes!

This Creamy Herb Chicken will become your favourite chicken recipe! WITH no heavy cream and dairy free options and just over 300 calories per serve!  How much easier could it get?

creamy herb chicken

Accidentally, and incidentally, this recipe is low carb AND gluten free with just under 5g carbs per serve! What did I do? Picture this: Juicy, tender chicken breasts, simmered in a flavourful and creamy herb sauce with a hint of garlic — HELLO — easy weekday meal.

the best sauce

So thick and creamy, this creamy herb sauce pairs perfectly over rice, pasta, or Creamy Mashed Potatoes. To keep the entire meal low carb, try it over cauliflower mash!

chicken recipe

If you know me by now, I don’t need to apologise for this recipe being cooked in the one pan, right? I’m ADDICTED to one pan creamy chicken recipes. We have Piccata’s and Sun Dried Tomato chickens flying around all over the place.

Just like those recipes, this whole thing is super easy BUT loaded with flavour.

how to make creamy chicken

First, you’re going to season you chicken in ALL the herbs. For this recipe, I chose:

  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley.

You can use Tarragon, or Basil with Oregano if you prefer.

Fry said chicken breasts > remove from pan > make creamy sauce > lick your fingers. See? E.A.S.Y.

After that, you can smother your fillets with the sauce and serve over any side you desire!

Quick And Easy Creamy Herb Chicken, filled with so much flavour, ready and on your table in 15 minutes? YES! WITH no heavy cream and dairy free options. And just over 300 calories per serve!

Volume 90% 

Quick And Easy Creamy Herb Chicken, filled with so much flavour, ready and on your table in 15 minutes! You won't believe how easy this is! | http://cafedelites.com


Quick And Easy Creamy Herb Chicken, filled with so much flavour, ready and on your table in 15 minutes! You won’t believe how easy this is!



For The Chicken:

  • 4 chicken breasts (pounded 1/2-inch thin)
  • 2 teaspoons each of onion powder and garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme and dried rosemary*
  • salt and pepper , to season

For The Sauce:

  • 4 cloves garlic , minced (or 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme and dried rosemary
  • 1 cup milk (or half and half)*
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water , until smooth


  • Coat chicken breasts with the onion and garlic powders and herbs. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken breasts until opaque and no longer pink inside (about 5 minutes each side, depending on thickness). Transfer to a plate; set aside.
  • To the same pan or skillet, heat another 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sauté garlic, with parsley, thyme and rosemary, for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  • Stir in milk (or cream); season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Bring to a boil; add the cornstarch mixture to the centre of the pan, quickly stirring, until sauce has thickened slightly. Reduce heat and simmer gently for a further minute to allow the sauce to thicken more.
  • Return chicken to the skillet. Sprinkle with extra herbs if desired. Serve immediately.


*If you don’t like Thyme or Rosemary, substitute these with Basil and Oregano, or use Tarragon.**For a dairy free option, I find Cashew milk the best in flavour. You can also use almond milk or rice milk. Yes, heavy cream can be substituted!


Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 158mg | Potassium: 520mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 135IU | Vitamin C: 2.6mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 0.8mg

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Latino immigrant advocates bring crucial support to families during COVID-19 pandemic

Paula M Naranjo/ Parent Editor

June 3, 2020, 7:22 PM CDT | By Jesse Vad and Luca Powell

“These are people who cannot afford not to go to work,” says a program director at a nonprofit who’s gone from helping organize workers to delivering groceries to them.

Members of the "relief brigades" organized by New Immigrant Community Empowerment in Queens, New York, with supplies that will be distributed to immigrant families.
Members of the “relief brigades” organized by New Immigrant Community Empowerment in Queens, New York, with supplies that will be distributed to immigrant families.Diana Moreno / New Immigrant Community Empowerment

In normal times, Diana Moreno helped immigrant workers secure work and get paid.

Moreno and the New York City nonprofit New Immigrant Community Empowerment, or NICE, whose Workers Rights Program she directs, advocate on behalf of jornaleros, Latino immigrant day laborers who work for contractors. The center acts as a liaison between workers and employers, ensuring that contractors don’t withhold wages and that laborers are paid adequately and are organized according to experience.

But that was before COVID-19 upended life in the heavily immigrant neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens, where NICE is based. Now, with no jobs to be had, Moreno’s focus has shifted: She’s simply helping immigrant families get access to food.

“The first wave was joblessness and unemployment,” Moreno said. “And these are people who cannot afford not to go to work.”

Across the country, advocates like Moreno are working to provide basic necessities to immigrant families, especially those without legal status who lack a safety net and are too worried or threatened to seek medical treatment or help. Mobilizing relief efforts

In New York, NICE is one of many groups pivoting from their regular missions. Its “relief brigade” brings groceries to families in the neighborhoods of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, which have some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 casualties in the city.

“Despite them being part of a high-need population, they are still giving their time and effort to food distribution efforts,” Moreno said of the neighborhood members helping deliver the much-needed items.

Moreno, 32, who has been working in New York for the past year after moving there from Gainesville, Florida, said “layer upon layer” of issues have made the pandemic an existential threat in the neighborhoods she serves.

One issue is the high price of medical care, especially for immigrants who don’t have access to insurance.

IMAGE: NICE 'relief brigade' members
Members of “relief brigades” organized by New Immigrant Community Empowerment in Queens, New York, with supplies that will be distributed to immigrant families.Diana Moreno / New Immigrant Community Empowerment

“Cost is at the front of their minds, like any other Americans,” Moreno said. “They delay, 100 percent, until they can no longer wait, until it’s an emergency.”

In addition, families with members who don’t have green cards fear using public benefit programs — even if other family members qualify — after the Trump administration expanded a public charge rule. It expands the criteria for denying applications for legal permanent residence based on past or potential use of government benefit programs.

That and fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement have kept families out of hospitals and medical centers, Moreno said.

“Our members are not going to get tested, because they’re afraid,” Moreno said. “We have no doubt that that’s led to higher rates of infection, especially among families and people living in close quarters, which we know our members do.”‘People are afraid to accept anything’

Outside Boston, Erika Perez sees the same trepidation among families.

“People are afraid to accept anything,” said Perez, 37, an interpreter and immigrant advocate who has been in the North Shore of Massachusetts since 2002; she’s originally from Guatemala. “They think it’s going to come back to them.”

In March, Perez began helping indigenous Central American immigrant families with their rent payments, writing letters to landlords and serving as an advocate for them. Now, she has organized a group to bring food and supplies to families and tries to persuade worried families to seek medical help.

The initiative, Mayans without Borders, didn’t exist before COVID-19. Now, it’s working overtime to support 200 indigenous families in the North Shore. Perez, who initially recruited her family members, has raised over $17,000 for the initiative on the website GoFundMe.

“This is just the beginning,” said Perez, who had been putting up her own money to fund relief efforts. “I want it to be more sustainable.”

The project has taken over her mother-in-law’s barn, from which she coordinates her outreach.

In April, Perez was put in touch with Vivian Lopez, 27, a Mayan from Guatemala who lives in Lynn, Massachusetts. Lynn is the third-hardest-hit city in the state, with more than 3,400 confirmed cases in a population of 95,000. The town is also over 40 percent Hispanic.

Lopez was suffering from aches and a fever, but she went to Perez worried about her 6-year-old son, Angel. He was also showing COVID-19 symptoms.

The first thing Perez asked Lopez was to contact Angel’s pediatrician.

“I begged her,” Perez said. “I said: ‘Please, it’s for your own good and for your son. Do it for your son.'” But Lopez was too fearful and just wanted to know whether Perez could help her.

Through Perez, who translated, Lopez said she was shocked by the disproportionate number of deaths among Latinos.

“My worst fear was to go into the hospital and not come out of it alive,” Lopez said. “My personal opinion is that perhaps [we’re] not being provided the proper medical attention. How was it that a lot of Hispanics were dying so quickly in such a short period of time?”

Perez said her own cousins didn’t want to seek medical help, saying they had experienced discrimination at an urgent care center in the past. Like other families, they’re opting to stay home, relying on at-home, traditional remedies.

Some in the community won’t even seek out Perez’s help, suspecting that her food deliveries might get them tagged under the public charge rule.

Scared of seeking help

Dr. Daniel Correa, a neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, is part of a network of doctors who have begun to publicly call for repeal of the expanded public charge rule. Latinos have the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths in the city, a trend documented in racial breakdowns by the city health department. A fear of seeking treatment, Correa said, is one of the reasons.

“Public charge was just the latest thing,” Correa said, referring to families with immigrant members. “There was already a lot of apprehension in the community before the pandemic. We were seeing concerns regarding public services, and in health care we were already seeing a decrease in public visits.”

he U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said emergency medical assistance, such as seeking care for COVID-19, doesn’t qualify under the umbrella of public charge. But Correa said there’s little trust in the federal government among families.

“They’ve detained people on the way to health care. We’ve seen this,” Correa said.

In terms of staying healthy, Correa said, orders to stay at home and isolate oneself are tougher for immigrant families who may be living in small spaces with multiple family members.

For some doctors, the coronavirus pandemic has brought a sense of déjà vu. Dr. Ilan Shapiro, a Los Angeles-based pediatrician, said he saw the same fear of seeking medical assistance among immigrant families in 2009, during the outbreak of H1N1.

“People are just waiting, and when they access the system, it’s too late,” Shapiro said. “That’s the U.S. — it’s not a different country.”

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Black Americans homeschool for different reasons than whites

By Mahala Dyer Stewart Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, Hamilton College. | June 1, 2020 8.31am EDT

When Michelle, a white stay-at-home mom, decided to homeschool her 8-year-old daughter, Emily, the decision was driven by what she saw as the lack of individualized attention at school.

“We wound up feeling frustrated that the school wasn’t following the child,” Michelle, a former communications specialist, explained of the decision by she and her husband, a software engineer, to homeschool their daughter.

She described her daughter as “exceptionally gifted” and said after repeated attempts to get her daughter’s school to provide advanced coursework, “it just felt like so much energy that I might as well do this thing myself.”

Michelle’s decision to homeschool stands in stark contrast to that of Lynette, a black mother who told me her son, Trevor, was 7 when he started having a hard time in school.

“I don’t want to say that it was bullying but that’s what it kind of ended up being and it wasn’t from students,” Lynette explained. “It was from teachers.”

“He’s 7 but he looks like he’s 10,” Lynette continued. “And they kind of acted like they were afraid of him. He’s never acted out violently but they made it sound like he was going to.”

Like Michelle, Lynette grew tired of making visits to her child’s school, but for a different reason.

“I just didn’t want to have to keep going to the principal’s office,” Lynette recalled during an interview at a cafe in the suburbs of a Northeastern city. “I’m like ‘you’re really targeting my kid for no reason because he’s the second biggest kid in the school.’”

Motives differ

The sharp contrast between Michelle and Lynette’s reason for homeschooling their children is common.

As a sociologist who has interviewed dozens of homeschooling parents, I’ve found that whereas most white parents homeschool to make sure their children get an education more tailored to their needs and talents, most black parents homeschool to remove their children from what they see as a racially hostile environment.

Now that schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families of all racial, ethnic and class backgrounds have been forced to spend more time educating their children at home, or at least making sure their children do whatever work the school has assigned.

It is unclear as to whether schools will reopen in the fall. It is also unclear how homeschooling – or at least the ability to oversee at-home learning – will be impacted by the pandemic. Based on existing research and data, I don’t see why reasons that parents previously decided to homeschool – whether they are black or white – will change or disappear. However, concerns about sending their children back to school amid the pandemic could become an additional reason.

Black students disciplined more

There is no shortage of research to support the view that America’s public schools treat black students more harshly than their white peers.

For example, a study by sociologists Edward Morris and Brea Perry found black boys are twice as likely as white boys to receive disciplinary action such as office referral, detention, suspension or expulsion. The same study found black girls are three times as likely as white girls to be disciplined for less serious and arguably more ambiguous behavior, such as disruptive behavior, dress code violations or disobedience.

The middle-class black mothers I interviewed say that despite their college education, salaries and advocacy on behalf of their children, they were unable to protect their children from the racial hostilities at school. The black families I spoke with told me they chose to homeschool only after they tried in vain to address discriminatory discipline practices at their children’s schools.

Money matters

Though the reasons why families chose to homeschool varies by race, I and other researchers have found that homeschooling is more common among two-parent households where one parent is the breadwinner and the other – most often the mother – educates the children. Homeschooling parents are also most often college-educated. One 2013 study found that among the 54 black homeschooling families interviewed, 42 of the families had one parent with at least a college degree, while many (19) also had graduate degrees.

If the ability to work from home makes it possible to homeschool, although incredibly challenging, data also suggest that homeschooling is more likely among families with higher incomes. That’s because the ability to work from home is largely tied to income. Federal labor data show that in 2017 and 2018, 61.5% of workers in the top income quartile could work from home. For workers in the second highest quartile, 37.3% could work from home. But for those in third and fourth highest income quartiles, only 20.1% and 9.1%, respectively, could work from home.

If reducing the risk of exposing their children to COVID-19 becomes a reason to homeschool this fall, these data would suggest that more well-to-do families are in a better position to see that their children are educated at home. By contrast, low-wage workers are less likely to easily exercise this choice. Some scholars speculate that this will lead to more well-off families deciding to continue their children’s learning at-home as a way to avoid virus exposure.

Future growth?

The percentage of U.S. children who are homeschooled rather than attending public and private schools was rising before the pandemicBetween 1999 and 2016, the percentage of the school age population who were homeschooled doubled from 1.7% to 3.3%, or close to 1.7 million students.

Black homeschoolers account for roughly 8% of this population, up from an estimated 4% in 2007. The 8% in 2016 represents 132,000 black homeschooling kids, according to the NCES data.

In 2017, black kids made up 15% of public school students, or 7.7 million kids of the roughly 50.7 million public school kids that year.

2019 federal report shows parents homeschool for a variety of reasons. Just 16% of homeschool families report moral or religious instruction as the primary reason for homeschooling, while 34% report their primary reason is concern with school environment. This report does not document how reasons vary by race. Yet my study would suggest that black parents, like Lynette, may be dissatisfied with school environment in very different ways than white parents, like Michelle.

U.S. suspends protections for migrant kids at border, expelling hundreds amid pandemic


María does not know what to do. Her request for U.S. asylum was denied. Her authorization to be in Mexico, contingent on having an ongoing U.S. immigration case, has expired. And now, the U.S. has sent her 10-year-old son alone to Honduras, where she fled an abusive partner who threatened to kill her if she returns.

After losing their asylum case under the Remain-in-Mexico policy, which has granted protection to just 1.1% of the migrants who have completed their proceedings under the program, María allowed Jesús, her young son, to cross the border alone to turn himself over to U.S. officials, thinking he would be allowed to reunite with family in Texas and seek refuge in the U.S. under long-standing policies for unaccompanied migrant minors.

Instead, Jesús was placed on a deportation flight to Honduras within four days of encountering U.S. immigration officials, who have been granted broad emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“He was desperate,” María told CBS News in Spanish, referring to her son. “He wanted to be in the U.S. with his uncle because he did not want to go back to Honduras to suffer. ‘I do not want to live with that man again so he can mistreat me,’ he told me.”

For the first time in decades, children like Jesús who show up at the southern border without their parents or legal guardians are being summarily expelled and denied access to protections that have been afforded to them under U.S. law. The shift is being justified under a 17-page public health order the Trump administration believes allows border officials to bypass asylum, immigration and anti-trafficking laws.

Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order, first issued on March 20 and renewed for another 30 days late last month, border officials have expelled thousands of unauthorized migrants to Mexico or their home countries and denied most asylum-seekers the opportunity to request humanitarian protections created by Congress.

In the last 11 days of March alone, officials expelled at least 299 unaccompanied children under the public health order. Expulsions in April are expected to be released Thursday, according to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesman, but data from the U.S. refugee agency responsible for caring for these minors suggests that most unaccompanied children have been denied entry since the emergency order took effect.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) received only 58 children from border officials in April, according to government data obtained by CBS News. In March, including the 11 days under the order, border officials referred 1,852 children to the agency.

Before the worst weeks of the pandemic, the office was getting as many as 77 migrant minors on a given day. Since the order’s implementation, especially in April, daily referrals from border officials have hovered around the single digits. On some days, the agency has not received any minors.

Because the refugee agency has continued to release children to relatives and sponsors in the U.S. during the pandemic, the number of unaccompanied migrant minors in its custody has plummeted, falling to 1,648 this week — a population not seen since late 2011, according to an administration official. Last April, during an unprecedented wave of U.S.-bound migrant families and children, the office had 12,500 minors in its care. 

The administration has argued that the CDC order invoking a 1940s-era public health law is necessary to block the entry of migrants who could be carrying the coronavirus and cause outbreaks inside immigration jails that would overwhelm the public health system along the border. Migrant children, top officials have argued, pose the same threat to the U.S. as adults during the pandemic.

“The disease doesn’t know age,” Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters last month. “When [minors] come across the border, they pose an absolute, concrete public health risk to this country and everybody they come in contact with.”

While officials like Morgan have maintained that the turn-back order was not a matter of immigration policy, it accomplishes an objective the Trump administration has pursued for over three years: shutting off access to humanitarian protections for immigrants who hardliners see as chiefly economic migrants.

“The administration is using coronavirus and the pandemic as a cover for doing what it has always wanted to do, which was to close the border to children,” Jennifer Nagda, the policy director at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, told CBS News. “There is no reason why unaccompanied children arriving at the border can’t be safely screened and transferred to ORR custody, where capacity is at an all-time low.”

“There is no real public health justification for turning these children away at the border — and it absolutely violates federal law,” Nagda added.

“I didn’t know where they had him”

María said she and Jesús left Honduras last year after being threatened by her former partner. She said her other three children stayed at her mother’s home, where they had been living.

CBS News is not disclosing María or Jesús’ real names to protect their identities.

Upon reaching and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in September 2019, María and her son were placed in the Remain in Mexico program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols or MPP, according to U.S. government documents reviewed by CBS News. For months, they lived in the tent city in Matamoros, Mexico, the largest refugee camp along the U.S.-Mexico border. They entered the U.S. three times to attend their court hearings at a makeshift immigration court in Brownsville, Texas.
In March, an immigration judge denied the family’s petition for humanitarian protection in the U.S. María said she found herself in an agonizing position. She feared her son could be hurt if they returned to Honduras. She was also concerned about his safety in the squalid tent camp in Matamoros, located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which the U.S. government warns Americans not to visit because of the rampant violence and crime there.

Migrant children play with cardboard boxes at a migrant encampment where more than 2,000 people live while seeking asylum in the U.S., while the spread of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Matamoros
Migrant children play with cardboard boxes at a migrant encampment where more than 2,000 people live while seeking asylum in the U.S., in Matamoros, Mexico, on April 9, 2020.REUTERS

So María followed the lead of other asylum-seeking parents in the MPP program and let Jesús cross the border without her, since unaccompanied minors are supposed to be excluded from the Remain in Mexico policy. Between October 2019 and last month, at least 571 children in the custody of the U.S. refugee agency have said their parents were in Mexico under the policy, according to government data obtained by CBS News.

In a letter Wednesday, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus denounced reports by advocates that the U.S. refugee agency has been delaying the release of children with pending Remain in Mexico cases. Last month, a federal judge said the agency can’t block the release of children with sponsors simply because they were formerly in Mexico with their family and have a pending case linked to the MPP program.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Jesús was turned over to the agency on April 20, one day after Border Patrol agents encountered and processed him under the public health order. On April 24, ICE sent him to Honduras on a deportation flight, the agency said. 

But María said she did not find out about her son’s fate until a week after he was expelled to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Her cousin in Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital, was the one who told her, she said. Honduran immigration officials reached her six days after Jesús’ removal. “I was scared about my son’s whereabouts. I didn’t know where they had him,” she said.

María’s cousin has agreed to take care of Jesús for the time being. The 10-year-old boy is still shocked and distressed, María said.

“This is the first time we have been separated. That’s why he is sad. ‘When are you coming, mommy?’ he has asked me,” she added. “They told me he spent his days at the shelter crying.”

Dr. Amy Cohen, a child welfare expert and executive director of the group Every Last One, which works with asylum-seeking minors, helped María locate her child and arranged for him to stay with family members in Honduras. Faulting the U.S. government, Cohen said it would’ve been nearly impossible for the Honduran mother to locate her son if she had not received outside help.

“This child, for all intents and purposes, is now alone in Honduras. He’s 10-years-old. He has been traumatized and separated from his mother,” Cohen told CBS News.

“Complete dereliction”

The rapid expulsion of unaccompanied children like Jesús from U.S. soil upends decades of legal safeguards that underage migrants have been granted for years, particularly those classified as unaccompanied.

When the Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress charged the Office of Refugee Resettlement with caring for unaccompanied minors, which had been the responsibility of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a Justice Department branch with law enforcement functions that was disbanded. 

Under a 2008 law, border officials generally must transfer unaccompanied migrant children who are not from Mexico or Canada to the U.S. refugee agency within three days of their apprehension, except in extraordinary circumstances. 

Once in the U.S., immigration law dictates that unaccompanied migrant minors can’t be placed in a fast-tracked deportation process known as “expedited removal” and must be connected with legal services providers and child advocates. They are to be placed in the “least restrictive” shelters and facilities.

U.S. law stipulates that unaccompanied children can also have their asylum applications decided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, rather than an immigration judge. Migrant minors, unlike adults, also have other avenues beyond asylum to seek safe haven in the U.S. Those who can prove they have been neglected, abandoned or abused by one or both parents can request “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status,” which creates a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

The care of unaccompanied children in U.S. custody is also governed by the landmark 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, which also covers minors in families. Under the settlement, minors must be detained in safe and sanitary facilities, and the government must make a continuing effort to release them to qualified sponsors. 

The Trump administration has sought to alter, limit or completely scrap most of these laws and protections, arguing that they encourage unauthorized migration of children, particularly from poverty-stricken and violence-ridden parts of Central America. But Jennifer Podkul, vice president of Kids in Need of Defense, a group that provides legal services to unaccompanied minors, said these safeguards were purposely established to protect them.

“Congress passed legislation with incredible bipartisan support, recognizing that this is a particularly vulnerable population, to make sure that these kids aren’t summarily returned but rather that they have the opportunity to talk to a social worker, talk to a lawyer and talk to a judge, so that the United States can be sure they are not sending a kid back to danger,” Podkul told CBS News. “That was Congress’ intent.”

Pablo Rodriguez, an attorney at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services who works with unaccompanied minors in U.S. immigration custody, said children fleeing to the U.S. are still in need of protection, even during a pandemic.

“Just because there is a pandemic going on does not mean that the reasons the children flee, the reasons why people are coming to the United States, have changed,” Rodriguez told CBS News. “They are still fleeing gang violence, and a lot of other push-and-pull factors are still at play.”

Border officials citing the CDC order have also altered the long-standing definition of an “unaccompanied” migrant child as a minor who is encountered at the border without a parent or legal guardian. The administration has told Congress it is now classifying minors who come to the border with other family members as “accompanied” and expelling them as a family.

Under an informal agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, Mexican officials agreed to receive Central American families and single adults expelled by the U.S. under the public health order but not unaccompanied minors, a Mexican government official told CBS News. However, a CBP spokesman said Tuesday that unaccompanied children could be expelled to Mexico through a port of entry, or in an ICE deportation flight.

CBP has said its agents could exclude unaccompanied minors from the public health order on a case-by-case basis if they see signs of trafficking or illness, or if the child’s expulsion to her home country is not immediately possible. A CBP spokesman did not provide more details about when agents could exclude children. “If specific circumstances guaranteeing exemptions from title 42 expulsion were to be made public, they would be exploited by human smugglers,” the spokesman said.

Nagda, the policy director at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, is worried about the potential asylum and protection requests that the U.S. is no longer hearing from children.

“What is most terrifying about this situation is the complete dereliction of any sense of either our legal obligation or moral obligation to very vulnerable children who are coming to our borders,” she said. “We have no idea who these children are and we have no idea where they’re going.”

Meanwhile, in the refugee camp in Matamoros, María is now contemplating returning to Honduras. 

“Yes, I’m scared to go back — but my son is there now,” she said.

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?

Alia E. Dastagir USA TODAY | Published 8:45 a.m. ET May 31, 2020

Should we tell the children? How?

Those are among the many questions parents are asking after the recent deaths of George FloydAhmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Many white parents wonder whether to talk with their kids at all, while parents of color swallow their  grief and fear to have “the talk” once again.

These deaths are part of a more complex story, one some parents have been telling for generations, and others have long felt they’ve had the luxury to ignore. But experts in child psychology and race-based stress say these conversations are essential for all parents to have, and they underscore that there are developmentally appropriate ways to talk to children of all ages about racism and police brutality.

“Silence will not protect you or them,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, a psychologist and author of, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race. “Avoiding the topic is not a solution.”

Racism persists, experts say, because many parents avoid difficult conversations.

A child holds an American Flag as protestors march through the streets on May 29, 2020, in St Louis, Missouri.

“One of the most important things to remember is that you may not have all the answers and that is OK,” said Erlanger Turner, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Pepperdine University who studies mental health among racial communities. 

USA TODAY spoke with Tatum and Turner about how to talk with children about racial violence:

Why is it important to talk with children about what happened to George Floyd and other incidents of police brutality or racism in the news?

Beverly Daniel Tatum: Even young children may see or hear about highly publicized incidents like the George Floyd case – perhaps overhearing the TV or the radio –  and may ask questions. Or if parents are upset by the news, the child may perceive the parent’s distress and ask why mom or dad is upset. In either case, an age-appropriate explanation is better than silence. Older children with Internet access may see online images on their own. Initiating an age-appropriate conversation can give children a helpful frame for understanding difficult realities. If parents are silent, children will draw their own often faulty conclusions about what is happening and why.

Erlanger Turner: Many adults are hurt and angered by these events and their children may notice changes in their mood. It is helpful to have a healthy conversation around what happened and also talk about ways to cope when you witness social injustice. 

Does COVID-19 warrant avoiding these conversations, given many children are already struggling with fear, anxiety and uncertainty? 

BDT: No. Not talking about upsetting events only fuels fear, anxiety and uncertainty.  Being able to talk about something with a supportive adult can reduce fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Parents may avoid the conversation because they don’t know what to say, but it is a mistake to think that their silence is helpful.Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.

ET: I don’t think that anxiety and fear about COVID-19 should stop a parent from talking about police brutality. This issue has been increasing in concern over the last few years as the number of black and brown people killed by police continue to rise. I think if you do talk with your child don’t leave them in a high state of worry. Make sure to end the conversation by engaging in a pleasant activity after the difficult discussion so they won’t stay worried or afraid. 

How do parents start these conversations and how does that change depending on the age of their children?

ET: I think the first place to start a conversation around racism and police brutality is with honesty. Take ownership of your feelings and be comfortable sharing those feelings with your child. Then you can begin to allow them to share what they may already know about racial differences. I think that it is always good to allow children to share their opinion and understanding before you offer information.

For younger children conversations about racism should be limited to basic facts about how people are treated differently due to the color of their skin but also acknowledge that not everyone treats people differently based on race. For older teens, parents can consider exposure to news or social media posts as discussion points about this issue. 

BDT: Regardless of the age of the child, it is important to balance acknowledging the reality of racism, or unfairness, with messages about the possibility of change, and the community of allies who are working together to make things better.

If a child of color asks if a police officer is going to kill them, what do you say?

BDT: The answer will depend on the age of the child.  If it is a young child, a parent can be reassuring.  “No, honey, you don’t have to worry about that. Police officers don’t want to hurt you.”

In response to an older child, it can be reassuring to say something like: “I know that it is scary to think that something like that might happen, and I really don’t want you to worry about anything like that. I know that most police officers want to help people, and most police officers never fire their guns. But sometimes they do get nervous and make mistakes. So it is important for you to know what to do if a police officer ever stops you…”

Black parents often refer to this as “the talk” they have to have with their adolescent sons to increase the odds they will survive an encounter with a police officer if and when they are stopped.

ET: That is a tough question. Depending on the age of the child, they may have some awareness of youth that have been killed by police. Obviously you don’t want to respond in a way that is going to make children be more fearful for their safety. In my opinion, I think that you should let children know that most police officers work to protect them and their community. 

people in blue shirts and white hat standing on street during daytime

If a child says they are afraid or angry, what do you say?

BDT: Acknowledge the child’s feelings. The parent may have similar feelings. “I know it’s upsetting to hear about and see these things happening. It upsets me too when bad things like this happen. Racism is very unfair. But it makes me feel better to know there are lots of people who want to change things.” Being able to offer specific examples of community change agents would be useful. Being able to talk about what family members are doing to speak up against unfairness is especially useful. Actions always speak louder than words.

ET: If a child tells you that they are angry, that is appropriate. Don’t force them to hide their emotional expression. However, be sure to help them identify ways to express their anger in a healthy manner which may include journaling or exercising to release the energy from their body. 

If a child is afraid for one of their friends, what do you say?

BDT: “I can see that you are worried about your friend. What do you think we could do that might help him or her?” Depending on the situation, this could be an opportunity to talk about what it means to be an ally, and how to stand in solidarity with another person.

ET: If a child is afraid for one of their friends, talk with them about those emotions. Allow the child to express why they may be afraid and help them identify how they can check on their friend’s safety to ease their anxiety or fear. Part of what increases anxiety is the fear of the unknown. If you have a plan of action it will reduce some of those fears. 

How can parents talk about law enforcement in a way that is honest but also doesn’t discourage children from seeking help from law enforcement when appropriate?

BDT: Most police officers become police officers because they want to help people. And there are times when we would really want a police officer to help us – give some examples – if there’s been a car accident, or if someone took something that belonged to us, etc. But sometimes a police officer does something bad, like today. When that happens, we might start to think that all police officers are like that.  But it’s important to remember that that is not true.

ET: I think that it is very important to talk with the children about law enforcement. For example, you can talk with them about how they protect rules in society such as making sure that people don’t drive too fast so they won’t harm themselves or others. Providing clear examples about the ways that law enforcement helps society will allow the child to better understand. You can also be honest about situations such as police brutality and let children know that some police officers break laws. If you have a trusted officer in your community it may be good to also allow the child to talk with them in person to reduce their fear.  

Should these conversations be different depending on the race of the child?

BDT: Children of color are likely to experience racist encounters as they get older.  They need to be helped to understand their own worth and feel affirmed in their identity as young people of color despite the negative messages they may get from others.  Parents of color want to raise self-confident and empowered children who are not demoralized by other people’s racism. This requires lots of conversation about racism and how to resist it in an ongoing way throughout their children’s lives.

White children are often racially isolated as a consequence of segregated schools and neighborhoods, and consequently limited in their understanding of people different from themselves.  White parents who want to interrupt the cycle of racism must learn to talk to their children about it and model their own anti-racist activity.

ET: According to research, white parents often don’t talk with their children about race or may emphasize “not seeing color.” The concept of colorblindness or “not seeing color” is more harmful than helpful and does not honor an individual’s identity. … For white families, research suggests … conversations should focus on raising anti-racist children and encouraging more friendships with children from others races.

Many of these deaths garner attention because footage of it goes viral. What should we say if our child asks to see it? 

BDT: There are many adults who don’t want to see such footage. I would not show it to a child at all. Once an image is in your head, it is very difficult to get it out. That said, it is reasonable to describe what happened and talk about why it was wrong. It is also likely that children with Internet access can view the footage without an adult’s permission or assistance. Talking about it after the fact will help children process their feelings.

ET: You should not show your children these videos as it may increase the likelihood of them experiencing symptoms of trauma or having nightmares. What we know from research on witnessing disasters is that individuals may be at a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder even through indirect exposure to these events. 

What do we say if, in the course of this conversation, a child says something racist?

BDT: Inquire about it with curiosity, not judgment. “I’m wondering why you said that…”  After hearing more about what the child is thinking, you can offer correction by providing new information. “You know, a lot of people might think that is true, but I don’t because….” 

ET: I think the first thing to do is to not get defensive. You want to foster open communication with your child. However, I think you should explore why they have that opinion, where did they learn it from, and tell them why what they said was wrong. It might be helpful for you as a parent to think about ways that you may have unconsciously expressed racist attitudes. 

How can parents explain the uprisings in a way that doesn’t condone violence but also doesn’t minimize the sense of injustice fueling them?

BDT: Children understand the concept of unfairness as well as the experience of frustration. Years and years of unfairness – racism – results in intense anger and frustration. The conversation can then be about what we must do to fix the continuing unfairness.

ET: I think it is important for parents to be honest. Share your hurt, anger, or disappointment with your child. You should also talk about different ways to protest social injustice such as calling your local politicians office or even visit their office to talk with them about policy change to reduce injustice. 

Resources for parents

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