"Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deuteronomy 11:19).
Join Adrienne Garrison--a parent in our church family--on her journey to learn more about having challenging conversations with kids. Videos will be posted on this webpage, Instagram, and Facebook on the 1st Thursday of each month.
Episode 6 - October 2
"Interview with the Long Family"
In Episode 6, the Long family shares some of their favorite books. Check them out!
She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton
Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
A Picture of Freedom (Dear America series) by Patricia McKissack
When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner
Mommy’s Heart Went Pop! by Christina Kyllonen
This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe
Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney
You Can Do It by Tony Dungy
A Mother for Choco by Kieko Kasza
Episode 5 - September 18
"Interview with the Iruoje Family" - Part 2
In Episode 5 of Conversations Along the Road, we'll hear the second part of a conversation with Sherwood Oaks parents Omo and Tiana Iruoje about the topic of race in their home.
Episode 4 - September 4
"Interview with the Iruoje Family" - Part 1
In episodes 4 and 5 of Conversations Along the Road, we'll hear from Sherwood Oaks parents Omo and Tiana Iruoje. Join us to learn what conversations around race sound like in their home.
The Iruoje Family's Favorite Books for Kids:
Chocolate Me by Taye Diggs
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
All Pixar Books
Why All the Black Kids Sit Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum
Nigerian Kids books
Episode 3 - August 21
"Raising Upstanders, Not Bystanders"
In Mark 12: 30-31, Jesus outlines the greatest commandments: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke is Jesus’s response to the question: Who is our neighbor? This story also illuminates a human tendency that stops us from loving our neighbors well.
Episode 3 features a conversation with Sejal and Kiran Rajamani, two young people who have grown up at Sherwood Oaks. We discuss the bystander effect, and how it plays out in the story of the Good Samaritan and in the experiences of youth in our church.
Our kids need help understanding that, in the moment, their default desire when encountering someone in distress is going to be to emotionally distance themselves and hope someone else will intervene. It is difficult to imagine ignoring a man who is bleeding on the side of the road we are walking on, but opportunities to love our neighbor present themselves a lot differently in 2020. We can teach our children to be upstanders, not bystanders, by sharing real-life situations when we’ve observed injustice or hurt, being honest about our desire to “cross the road,” and role-playing what it looks like to take action.
This resource from tolerance.org gives some great starter phrases that you can practice with your kids.
INTERRUPT Speak up against every biased remark—every time, in the moment, without exception. Think about what you’ll say ahead of time so you’re prepared to act instantly.
Try saying: “I don’t like words like that,” or “That phrase is hurtful.”
QUESTION Ask simple questions to find out why the speaker made the offensive comment and how you can best address the situation.
Try asking: “Why do you say that?” What do you mean?” or “Tell me more.”
EDUCATE Explain why a term or phrase is offensive. Encourage the person to choose a different expression. Hate isn’t behind all hateful speech. Sometimes ignorance is at work, or lack of exposure to a diverse population.
Try saying: “Do you know the history of that word?”
ECHO If someone else speaks up against hate, thank her and reiterate her anti-bias message. One person’s voice is a powerful start. Many voices together create change.
Try saying: “Thanks for speaking up, Allison. I agree that word is offensive and we shouldn’t use it.”
I huge thanks to Kiran and Sejal for sharing their stories with us. We recognize that it takes emotional energy, time, and a heart for reconciliation to share stories like this, and we are grateful!
Episode 2 - August 7
"Love in Action"
In Psalm 139:23-24, David says, “Search me, God, and know my heart… See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” David understood that there can be ideas and attitudes in our own hearts that are hidden from us. In psychology, these are called implicit biases. Unlike explicit stereotypes, which are what we often understand as racism or prejudice, implicit biases are attitudes we have that we aren’t aware of.
In this video, I share an interaction with two of my kindergarten students where their attitudes of distain for one another’s appearance and ethnicity were evident. As adults, many of us have learned to censor our behavior and speech, but that doesn’t mean that, deep inside our hearts, we aren’t still loving some of God’s children less than others.
In exploring 1 John 4:20, I dug a little deeper into the Greek translation of the word “miseo” which means: to hate, to detest, to persecute, or… to love less.
Have you taken the Implicit Associations Test (IAT)? It’s a short, online activity that seeks to uncover unconscious attitudes and associations. Be the Bridge advises us to start with this one, and I agree. It’s a great place to start.
1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This Conversation Along the Road challenges me to not dismiss the existence of hate in my own heart so quickly, especially given that I am living in a culture that very clearly loves some of my brothers less. I want to talk to my kids about how we can love God by loving others.
I am so grateful to be a part of a church that is willing to have hard conversations. If you missed SOCC’s first Racial Reconcililation Training with Dr. Virginia Githiri, you can find it at SOCC.org/unity.
Episode 1 - July 17
"God's Good Plan: Teaching Children to Be Color Honoring"
I am so grateful for the work of Dorena Williamson and her book Colorfull for helping me find the words to express God's good design and the courage not to back away from these conversations with young kids. You can get a copy of her book here. Also, her recent podcast interview with Don't Mom Alone was especially life-giving: https://dontmomalone.com/2020/07/13/week-two-summer-of-mentorship-2020-dorena-williamson/
Here is an academic study for early education regarding how young children make meaning of race (and why they need our help to do so!): https://inclusions.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Children-are-Not-Colorblind.pdf
Here is the recap of the response I used to help my daughter learn to see people of color with God's eyes of love and wonder. I'm praying these things can help you feel equipped along the road!
When you or your child notices differences in skin tone or ethnicity:
Affirm what the child sees: Yes, that woman has brown skin. (Note: If your child hasn't voiced any noticing to you, they may feel uncertain on how to do so, but studies show they ARE noticing. Feel free to bring up skin tone in conversation yourself, as you would point out another facet of God's creation to them, like the sunset!)
Celebrate God's good design: God says we are wonderfully made, and I agree! Her brown skin is beautiful. She was born that way, and you were born with beautiful white skin.
Connect with a similarity: We're both waiting in line right now. I don't really like waiting. Do you like waiting? Do you think she likes waiting?
Make Contact: Smile and wave, introduce yourself and your child, give a complement, say hello.