The America We Live In: Explaining Hate to My Eight Year Old

It took a really long time for me to decide whether or not I wanted to discuss Charlottesville, VA in regards to racism, fascism, and Nazism to my eight year old. Until he got up this morning and I was about to read Percy Jackson as I usually do, ( I eat much earlier and he out eats me by about four times the amount so we get a lot of reading done at breakfast), and instead I started talking about racism and the Alt-Right/KKK gathering in Charlottesville, VA that ended in the death of one woman and the wounding of some nineteen others  due to a car plowing into a peaceful protest, on top of the two policemen killed.

This is not okay. It is not okay to come to a college campus and march with torches and promote hate, the same type of hatred many of our grandfathers or great grandfathers fought against in WWII. And they chose to begin this march on a college campus because the educated youth is who they need to target, or to get on their side. This hate is here in our America, being denounced nationwide by Democrats and Republicans alike. However, I felt it impossible not to speak to my child because the one person immediately not denouncing it was the President of the United States. Immediately, I felt his remarks lacked any real remorse or committed stance that this was racism at is core, terrorism perpetrated by the same people who are raving about our President. Violence on all sides? What the fuck? David Duke even specifically said he was happy about the President’s statements and how they did NOT call the Alt-Right out for being terrifying and malicious in their intent. In fact, it took two days for Trump to say anything remotely calling the rally what it was; which he almost immediately countered with a statement about the Alt-Left and their violence.

Wait a minute…The Alt-Left? Does he mean the peaceful protesters who were there protesting the KKK rally-I mean Alt-Right rally? Perhaps he means the protesters who engaged back in the violence the rally brought? However few who did engage, ultimately, what the groups stand for at their core are what’s making this such a high stakes discussion. There was a group Unite the Right, protesting the removal of General Robert E. Lee statue from a park open carrying guns and torches, and an even larger group protesting this group, protesting what was essentially a whole lot of members supporting white supremacy.

There was so much information, so much darkness, that I didn’t even begin to know how to talk to my kid in a coherent and eight year old meaningful way. When I started explaining, however, he knew more than I gave him credit for, such as Nazis are bad. He already knew, just from picking up conversation elsewhere, (not sure where because for a long time I kept politics out of the home–until the debates) that Trump was a bully. He knew about the Civil War and who freed the slaves, (albeit for maybe not the most altruistic reasons), and knew that there are people who discriminate based on how you look, who you love, and what your sex is (whether it be physical or otherwise). I don’t shy away from conversation with my son about “controversial” topics. So we discussed the America we live in, and the America we stand for, and what we can do as humans to promote the message of acceptance. It’s really more of an understanding, not just an acceptance, and certainly not tolerance, of how difference in ethnicity, religion, gender, sex, relationships, family makeups…how all this difference makes us human and amazing. I mean, ultimately, most of us want the same basic things: love, understanding, friendship, and meaning within our lives.

I did tell my child what went on and why and how it was handled by different people. He watched Seth Meyers reaction, which was maybe my favorite of the nighttime hosts. And he took it in and asked a couple of questions. And then he was hungry. He wanted me to read Percy Jackson and The Last Olympian, a story where it seems like the bad might prevail, but the hero always wins in the end.

We can’t bury the bad in the world, nice it over for our kids. This is the world they will inherit, and I would like my child to learn from the mistakes of the past. Ultimately, as Americans, I feel that we will be learning a lot about the formation of protest groups and the rally cry of the usurping of our rights. I have never in my life seen this amount people out to protest such things as healthcare as I have in the past few months and it is both sad that it needs to be done, yet hopeful that people are standing up and demanding to be treated better. I am hopeful that more people will educate their kids on what it means to be an American versus the innate hatred that comes with white supremacy, or any hate group for that matter.

Trump has emboldened hate groups. After the announcement that he was, to the chagrin of many, going to become the 45th President of the United States, I wrote this: Trump Gave Hate A Platform . I feel that it is still relevant, if not more so in the wake of the white supremacist march. Speak out. Educate. Explain. I am a single working mother; I won’t be at the marches or the protests, but I won’t be silent.

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