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Ex Fabula: Talking to Kids About Race

Nicole Acosta
Ex Fabula Fellow's Event: Talking to Kids About Race, in May 2018

On May 31st The March on Milwaukee 50th Coordinating Committee is partnering with Still Waters Collective and the Zeidler Center on a series of public dialogues, featuring stories from Ex Fabula Fellows, to explore how the city remembers its history, with MKE Monumental.

Only by acknowledging and exploring our history can we begin to make changes for our future, especially when it comes to race and equality. With this in mind, this week we’re sharing stories about kids. More specifically, how white parents talk to white kids about race and equality. 

Zak Heimerl thought he was doing pretty well in the parenting department. His son was a happy, kind little boy who attended a middle-class, liberal grade school, and raised with progressive values. His son, who is white, had yet to see the ugliness of hate or racism or even hear the vulgar “N” word. Until one afternoon at Grandpa’s house when his son’s innocence was rocked after watching a white woman berate a black man waiting at the bus stop in front of the house, calling out the ugliest of words and leaving Zak to stumble through an explanation and history lesson he was unprepared for.

Then, we turn to another family. The moment happened one morning when they were running late and Liza Kessler couldn’t find her keys. Her 9-year-old daughter asked, "Mom, what's 'the Hood'"? With a pause and still missing their shoes, Liza thought about the historical context and the long, nuanced explanation and the shorter explanation that would get her daughter’s shoes on and get them both out of the door. Liza, a white mother, understands the importance of historical context. She also understands the importance of timeliness. Which explanation did she choose? Tune in to find out.

Ex Fabula's next event is the May 31st MKE Monumental workshop.

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