When is the right time to teach young Black children how to navigate through society? 

How can we prepare them to balance their innocence and simultaneously combat the harsh realities of being Black in America?

Solidarity is a community education organization comprised of volunteer social activists who have the mutual goal of learning Black history and discussing empowering topics related to the Black community. This organization is primarily about critical consciousness. Every fourth Friday of each month, The Nu Skool of Afrikan-Amerikan Thought hosts discussion sessions at the High School of Recording Arts in St. Paul. 1166 University Ave. W. This program was designed in 2015 to create a space for people to come and release their thoughts, as well as gain insight from other people in the community.

On Oct. 26, the discussion highlighted James Baldwin’s one and only children’s book, “Little Man, Little Man.” The book focuses on the experiences many of us had during childhood due to our Blackness. In the Black community, discussions about poverty, mass incarceration and law enforcement are unavoidable. We are faced with the responsibility of pinpointing the appropriate time to discuss these topics with our children at a young age because, unfortunately, Black children have a unique experience.

When is the appropriate time and what is the right way to have these discussions? For some, it depended on the surrounding environment and the way that our parents viewed that environment. As children, color did not play a role in the way that we perceived the world until we were exposed to it. We know differences exist, but we didn’t feel those differences until we had that discussion with our parents or learned through experiences. For myself, I learned I was different from my white counterparts once I recognized I was no longer being invited to play with them and noticed everyone beginning to migrate towards kids who looked like them in elementary school. At some point, I was expected to speak a lot quieter and move a little slower so as to not frighten or intimidate anyone. Even still, I was not fully aware of the ways that my culture has to address issues like poverty, incarceration and police brutality until I had those critical conversations with my mother.

Social media and widespread news coverage make it harder for the children of this generation to be sheltered from the real world. They must find a balance between enjoying the freedom belonging to a child and finding mature ways to approach the restrictions placed on them for being Black. How are you approaching the topic of Blackness to your children?

Solidarity wants community members to come together once a month to discuss topics similar to this and learn how to resolve our issues as a collective. Reshaping our historical imagination and identifying who we are as a group can assist us in moving forward in a optimistic and intentional way. Solidarity will continue making efforts towards reviving and maintaining the struggle for social justice. All are welcome to participate in the discussion every fourth Friday from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

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