A guide on how to educate about racial injustice without starting a fight.

We are fighting two wars right now: racism and lack of awareness.

The first of these is more obvious. From Native Americans losing their homes to racial groups being painted as criminals, racism is not a new battle in America. 

The second war is much less obvious but arguably much more deadly. In homes around the world, we are battling the invisible enemy of lack of awareness.  

Generation Z, a group of individuals who are not tolerating the injustices their parents have brushed off, are leading the fight for education.

This has been amplified by the recent spark in discussion surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. As the the murder of George Floyd was publicly shared on the internet, people all over the world began to stand up in outrage over the injustice.

The video ignited conversations, protests and change both in America and in countries abroad. 

As the cause of racial equality garners attention worldwide, conversations are brewing within individual families about how these problems have always existed, and how the system needs to change.

With that said, over the last couple of weeks I have had these conversations with my own family. I’ve learned about a generational gap; “Boomers” understand situations differently than “Gen Z.” Therefore, we must learn how to educate without starting a fight.

Here are some mistakes I have made when trying to educate my family and what I learned from them.

  1. The language the media uses and the language used at protests/online differs. Greatly. 

The language and statistics of how many black people have been killed by police officers spoken of at the protests and on social media have yet to reach my family members. The stories and testimonials of people who have experienced systemic racism are not as publicised as the stories of looting and rioting. 

For example, my parents are aware of the violence and riot arrests, as told by big media, but are unaware of the many peaceful protests and clean up actions done by the community.

Instead of becoming angry that they don’t know the whole story or don’t understand the call to action, we should instead explain it to them. 

Educate them like social media has been educating us.

Show them the cleanup efforts that are being done to help the communities where protesting is taking place. And try and share the stories and testimonials we have been hearing at protests and through the online community. 

  1. Watch educational films with them 

I watched the documentary “13th” with my parents. While watching the documentary, my mom, who has a masters degree and works in the Psych ward of a hospital and has family who have immigrated from Egypt, said, “I didn’t know there was such a thing as a private prison.” 

I was shocked that she did not know of privatized government systems and how corporations affect our government’s policies and laws so frequently. 

While this shocked me, it made me wonder what other things she might not know; how our generational gap has affected the knowledge we individually share. 

We need to begin taking responsibility for educating our family members. That’s why I say we should watch educational films with them. That way we can answer their questions instead of being shocked. Let’s try and educate.

  1. Do not try to convince them without proper evidence. Remain calm and diligent, don’t get flustered. 

When emotions are running high, and you have learned so much new information about injustices, you sometimes forget the sources and facts that make you credible.

Instead of allowing your feelings to rule the conversation, screenshot the information and sources ahead of time so you can reference back to them when educating others. It will cause less of a debate and more of a knowledgeable and positive conversation.

This can look like sharing activist ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s article outlining racism in America or Time Magazine’s article on how the police as an organization were created to capture slaves and to protect the white individuals and their cargo.

You can also find videos that compile the situation clearly. An example is this video outlining what it means to abolish the police.

No matter the sources you choose to share, inform them as calmly as you can with information to back up your claims.

By educating them, urging them to use their voice and utilizing their ability to vote, you are making a real difference. 

It’s our job to educate our family members, it’s not the Black community’s. So if they are willing to learn, we must be willing to teach and not scold. Change starts at home.