DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — May 25, 2020, the day George Floyd was killed at the hands of Minneapolis Police officers, had a profound effect on the Miami Valley, including new police reform plans for the City of Dayton announced Monday.
It also changed the way parents speak with their kids about social justice.
“I think there’s a willingness for folks of all different racial backgrounds to engage in these conversations,” said Dr. Leslie Picca, Ph.D., a University of Dayton professor of sociology.
Floyd’s deaths changed the way families had conversations with their children about interacting with the police.
“It’s sad that we have to have these conversations but it’s also the reality of being an African American,” said Cherie White.
White’s son is now 18, and just finished his first year of college. She recalls having “the conversation” with him at a young age. “We did scenarios you know ‘what if.’ We kind of played through certain situations,” she said.
Crystal Schultz who has two sons, one who is 6-years-old and one who is 18 said, “The timing of it made it real for him [her oldest son] because the George Floyd incident happened right before he was scheduled to leave for his freshman year in college. So this was the first time he’d be away from home and have that protection and that shield that we typically provide.”
Schultz said her 6-year-old loves everything about police but said Floyd’s death presented many teachable moments for him as well. “I think it was our first minds to protect his innocence, but I think we realized it was a teachable moment so as much as you love the police and as much as they’re supposed to serve and protect not all of them have that agenda,” she said.
Experts said most kids are receptive to conversations about race and ethnicity, but the key is being open and honest.
“I think many parents, in particular white parents, can feel uncomfortable talking to their kids about race because many of us weren’t raised or socialized to have these conversations. We, as parents, have to have that willingness to learn, to grow, and to be honest with our kids about what we don’t know as well,” said Dr. Picca.