June 01, 2020

The Challenge: Talking about Racism with Black Youth

A reflection from a professional mentor.

Shaye, a professional mentor to teen girls, reflects on talking about racism with youth and supporting Black youth emotionally when the world sends the message that their value is determined by the color of their skin.

This week has been a particularly difficult one. It’s all over social media, the news and talks amongst people. Sadly, it’s also not a rare week for America where you open up your news app to see that a black person is being murdered by a white person. Continuous acts of racism perpetuated throughout our country that specifically have the barrel of the gun pointed at Black folks. I am a person of color, and I feel the anger and pain from continuously reading about a Black man or woman being questioned, arrested, and/or killed because “they fit the description” or “they seemed to be doing [insert criminal act here].” I can’t imagine the anger and pain being felt by the community of Black folks who are seeing their people killed by police. I can’t imagine.

My caseload is primarily Black girls, so with this going on in our society today, this is an important topic that needs to be part of the conversation. This was my challenge for the week. Some know what’s going on, and some of them don’t. I challenged those who don’t know to read about it and let themselves feel all of the emotions, and I challenged those who do know to talk about it with loved ones. Conversing about difficult topics pertaining to the Black and Brown community is important because they need to know that it is not normal and that it is not ok. It’s not ok that people that look like them are being shot and killed innocently. I challenge them to not be scared because of their skin color, but to be educated on how our country sees their skin color. I want my girls to know that the color of their skin dictates how the world sees them, but to not be afraid to break out of those boundaries with strength and power.