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Kids, racism, and social justice: how to address these topics at home | Family First with FOX43

In the wake of the Derek Chauvin trial verdict, parents may be looking for the right words to talk about America's racial reckoning with their children.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — George Floyd. Daunte Wright. Breonna Taylor.

These are just three lives in the past year, along with dozens of others over previous years, whose deaths have sparked protests and calls for police and social justice reform. They have forced us to have conversations with ourselves and our peers about race in America, and local doctors say we should be having those same conversations with our children, as well.

Dr. Dawn Crosson, a clinical psychologist in Harrisburg, believes any discussions need to start with addressing our own biases.

"We believe that just because we may have been raised in a racially diverse home, or had opportunities to interact or be raised with other races or cultures, that we are all knowing, all being, and fine," Crosson said. "We have to constantly reevavulate ourselves and do some reflection to understand where we are at."

Crosson said that is done through education, exploring other cultures, and connecting with people from different cultures and races. 

Educating one's self will help with any conversation with a young child, she said.

"This is a result of our nation not handling race and diversity well, and having that conversation about slavery and other forms of oppression in the United States which have occurred," Dr. Crosson said.

Parents should have those talks as early as possible, and making it age-appropriate, but making sure kids know that issues of police brutality or racism in general against people of color is not an isolated incident.

"Unfortunately, in our country, there has always been a racial divide, and (protests are) a result of that," she said.

Dr. Crosson's discussion with FOX43's Matt Maisel also went into "The Talk," which she said are the series of conversations Black parents have with their children that their lives are very different than other cultures.   

Crosson said there are rules and regulations for everyone, but the consequences when Black men and women break them look completely different, and that includes being killed.

"These are unsaid rules that have been reinforced by law enforcement in our country," Dr. Crosson said. "My mother used to always tell me not to wear braids when I'd go interview for a job because I probably won't get the job. I'll tell my son when you're driving to be home by a certain hour. 'Mom, that's not curfew,' he'll say, but it is curfew because we live in a predominantly white neighborhood and you are African-American in a car."

Crosson said the best way to understand different cultures is constant exposure to those cultures, be it through food, museums, people, and festivals. 

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