On Tuesday, many parents were surprised to discover that children’s channel Nickelodeon had found some poignant ways to address the death of George Floyd.
Criticism began on Monday when the children’s channel went off the air for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time in which he was pinned to the ground. The channel also shared its kids’ declaration of rights.
Nickelodeon then aired the same commercial as other Viacom-owned channels. The words “I can’t breathe” emerge and dissipate from the screen for the same amount of time. Heavy breathing accompanies the words. Viewers were later asked to join Color of Change in its mission to reform the criminal justice system.
Some parents were upset by the action. They argued that presenting the information in this way was “scary.” They feel that they should control the conversation with their child when it comes to race and injustice.
Every parent should be speaking to their children about what’s going on in the world right now. It doesn’t matter what your race is or how old your children are. If parents choose not to talk to children, they need to recognize where we are in history. We’ve reached the point where society will do the parenting you decline to. The ability to control the narrative is yours, but the time to avoid or ignore it is no longer.
That said, these conversations are complex and nuanced. It’s hard to figure out how much your child can digest. There are resources to help you talk to kids about race and injustice. Whether you’re a black parent who is looking for a new way to approach a subject that’s been spoken about in your home before or a white parent unsure of where to begin, there are resources available to you that will facilitate those conversations so that they’re fact-based, thorough, and age-appropriate.