What to Expect When You’re Protesting: Marching with Kids in Tow
By Katharine Strange @realstrangekaty
At Kids & Race we love to point parents toward making an action plan with their families. One way you and your family can act against racism is to protest. First time marching with kids? Here are some do’s and don’ts.
-check out the protest on social media. Does it say things like “family friendly” or “kid friendly”? I’ve taken my kids to march in Gay Pride and to various Black Lives Matter Protests. In my experience, these have always been safe and welcoming places for families, still, use common sense.
-plan ahead. Check the weather. Make sure you and your family have comfortable walking shoes, baby carriers, snacks, sunscreen, as needed. Strollers might seem like a good idea, but often are difficult to navigate on crowded public transit.
-prepare your kids. Explain to them what you’re doing and where you’re going, at an age-appropriate level. Before BLM protests I explained to my preschooler that sometimes police don’t treat people fairly. We march because we want to live in a world where black, white, Asian, Latinx, and Native American people are all protected and treated fairly by police.
-be flexible. The day of the 2018 Women’s March was cold and rainy. We showed up and there were several long speeches planned. My kids couldn’t handle waiting around. We left to warm up in a café and then rejoined once the march started. I also wouldn’t be afraid to let my kids play on my phone while the adults listen to speakers.
-be afraid of questions. Kids pick up on a lot more than we often realize. This can lead to some uncomfortable questions. “Why did the police kill that man?” or “Why are those called ‘pussy hats’?” It’s OK to be surprised by questions and to need time to formulate an age-appropriate response. “Let’s talk about this when we get home,” is a fine response. Just make sure to follow up!
Protests can be a great way to make your voice heard and a good educational opportunity for your kids. Tie it all together by reading a great picture book like Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down (for elementary kids) or We March (for younger kids).
Most importantly, have fun teaching your kids about using their People Power!