Editorial

EDITORIAL: Children Saw, But What Will They Learn?

An irate white anti-protester taped a profanity-laced tirade on Twitter, castigating the angry mob that seized upon the U.S. Capitol and led an insurrection incited by President Donald Trump. The red-faced white male demanded a response to a question he repeatedly asked, “What the hell do you want?”

The insurrectionists’ led a failed attempt to keep the Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives and Senate from certifying the Electoral College victory for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as U.S. president and vice president. Still, the destructive rioters were successful in causing the deaths of six individuals, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, who died of his injuries incurred during the melee, and another officer that died a few days later.

The Twitter rant that went viral, and the tweeter, who we will not identify, asked what many ask who watched the destruction of America’s national treasure. “Do you ever not sit there and think, ‘My kids are going to see this. My grandkids are going to see this. They’re going to put it in a textbook, and you’re going to look like the dumbest MFs in the world.'”

He spoke nothing but the truth. Children were watching. Many accompanied their parents to the National Mall, where they witnessed first-hand the anger, contempt, violence, and destruction of property and physical attacks on other Americans that will be emblazoned in their memories forever. The insanity was akin to the children who accompanied their white fathers and mothers to watch the lynching of mostly Black men and boys throughout the South. For many, it led to a repudiation of their parent’s racist beliefs, but for others, it helped to further brand hatred and racism into their hearts and in their DNA.

How do you explain to children of all races what the group largely made up of white men did on Jan. 6, 2021? What lessons can be learned from the vitriolic rhetoric that continues to threaten innocent people who fear what their next actions will be?

We must talk to our children and help them to make sense of this nonsense. More importantly, we must listen to them to see how they are processing what they’ve heard and seen. And we must help them find the answers to the questions we can’t answer, including, “Why are those people so angry?” This craziness opens the door to hard conversations about race and how the next generation will learn to deal with it.

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